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Transformation (Rai-Kirah, #1)
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Transformation (Rai-Kirah #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  5,777 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
TRANSFORMATION is a dazzling debut novel from a new star in the fantasy genre.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 23rd 2001 by Orbit (first published August 1st 2000)
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Jun 12, 2007 Punk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, fantasy
Fantasy. There's this guy, and he has wings, and he's been...sold into slavery? And this prince buys him? I can't really remember. But the one guy totally has wings. And lots of man-angst.

My absolute biggest complaint about this book is that after hundreds of pages of foreplay, the prince and his slave do not actually confess their manly love for each other and get married. But they very nearly do, so maybe that'll be enough for the rest of you. The slave sleeps at the foot of the prince's bed!
(Re-posted from

Alright, let's get this out the way straight up. That first cover is ridiculous. And not in a good way. I mean, who looked at that image of a scantily glad gentlemen with enormous green wings on a cliff top and thought, "yup, perfect." I mean, the covers for "Revelation" and "Restoration" aren't exactly awesome either, but compared to 'Transformation...' Yikes.

Which sucks. Because I suspect that that cover is bad enough to stop people from readi
Sep 03, 2012 Marilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes the fantasy adventure genre.
Recommended to Marilyn by: I stumbled onto it by accident.
Carol Berg has not yet written a book I didn't love.

Her books are full of cruelly treated souls with ultimate deliverance. Although her books rarely end in tragedy (at least not universal tragedy), you cannot count on an entirely happy ending either. You can be reasonably sure your favorite people will survive, but they may sustain significant damage, mental and physical, on the way.

The common denominator of her heroes and heroines is that they've suffered. Sometimes, they know why, sometimes
Sep 22, 2014 Alissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
I loved this story. It’s intriguing and compelling, yet at first it was difficult to relate to the protagonists. I’m not sure I fully managed by the end of the book but the depth of their tale, the original world-building, the incredible characterization and the emotional ramifications to different decisions worked so well for me that I immersed with ease in the narrative and was always eager to turn the pages.
As I’ve come to appreciate from Carol Berg, her storytelling is ingenious, deceptively
Sep 29, 2014 Mimi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Robin Hobb and Lynn Flewelling; maybe fans of David Eddings and Terry Brooks as well
Recommended to Mimi by: no one, just something I'd been meaning to read for awhile
Shelves: fantasy, not-for-me, 2015
Ten years ago I would have liked Transformation a lot more. Back when I used to enjoy high fantasy this book would have been memorable. Now? Now I'm trying to get back to the genre but not doing very well, mostly because I'm tired of reading about the same things over and over again. Medieval setting, a conquering empire on the rise, boring court life, boring court intrigue, boring political maneuverings, ridiculously exacerbating nobles, tiresome royalty, etc etc. One exception is I still find ...more
4.0 stars. This is a well written, original, epic fantasy story with well drawn, three dimensional characters and a very intricate plot. Some pacing problems and a few slow parts keep this from getting a five star rating but I will certainly read the next book in the series. Recommended.
I’ve been intending to read Transformation for a long time. A friend recommended it to me, telling me to ignore the terrible cover, but I still let it sit on my virtual shelf for far too long. Thanks to my TBR challenge, I finally got around to it. I really loved it, and wish I’d read it sooner! This is a book that deserves more attention, and I agree - ignore the cover!

It’s a Fantasy that takes place in a large, greedy empire that gobbles up its neighbors and uses wide scale slavery. The cultur
Leah Petersen
Apr 03, 2011 Leah Petersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leah by: Deidre Knight
Shelves: fantasy
I was truly shocked to read the other reviews and realize that many perceived this as the-queer-book-that-didn't. I write gay fiction myself, and read tons of it. It never even occurred to me in reading this that they might be gay, or should be, for that matter.

I think what makes this one of The. Best. Character/Relationship books I've ever read is that it doesn't muddle the issue with lust and sex. Bravo to Ms. Berg for accomplishing it because it's harder to pen such a poignant relationship wh
Final rating: 4.75/5 stars
Final rating - for the whole series: 4.25/5 stars

I love old books, sometimes they are much better than the newer ones as most of the ideas were seen. I loved the world building in this one and I honestly can't wait to finish the trilogy. I have finished the trilogy and have no regrets.

If you love angst this is the right book for you. If you want to feel a lot of pain and cry, this is the book for you. I love when books move me, and I knew from description that this won'
Jun 04, 2007 Trin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. I am shocked and delighted by how much I loved this. It’s an original world combined with all the pleasures of a really slashy bit of fanfic. There are slavefic and wingfic elements, and demons and destiny, and it all sounds really cheesy, but like really good fic, it transcends these clichés. The relationship between Aleksander and Seyonne is beautifully developed: they begin as master and slave, and we get to see the whole process of Aleksander gaining maturity and compassion, an ...more
Mar 24, 2010 Lym rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: Even though Transformation is the first book of a trilogy, it also works extremely well as a standalone. If I hadn't known before that it's part of a series, I probably wouldn't have gone looking for sequels.

We begin our story, and please don't roll your eyes or run away yet, when our protagonist Seyonne is sold as a slave to our other protagonist, Aleksander, prince of the mighty Derzhi Empire. Zander is what you might expect: A spoiled, arrogant brat who doesn't value Seyonne as anything
Dec 02, 2015 Antigone rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
There's been a lot of complaint about the artwork on the cover - clearly by readers too young and/or trend-based to recall a time when all the covers in the genre looked exactly the same. Back when fantasy was tightly tucked into the category of science fiction. Back in the era of tribbles, red planets, flying saucers, time machines...and a much more methodical approach to the craft of storytelling. The cover of Transformation was actually a draw for me. A hope that the retro sensibility might e ...more
Sep 07, 2007 Louise rated it liked it
Recommends it for: slashers, people who like fantasy with a bit of grit
An interesting book, which has a very slashy master/slave set up. Amazingly, considering the extreme slashiness of them (at one point he is drinking from his fountain of joy), I was never sure if Carol Berg was actually aware of it. At times I was really expecting things to kick off between them.

She certainly doesn't mention it or resolve it, apart from letting it fizzle out. Everyone is resolutely heterosexual, although homosexuality is mentioned, but only in terms of sexual abuse of the slave
Nov 03, 2009 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality Group Selection for Feb 2013
This is a book the likes of which I have not come across in some time. It grabbed me within the first few pages and did not let go until I finished it. It hasn't quite let go of me yet, actually -- it was almost physically painful to stop myself from immediately picking up the next book in the series to instead come to the computer and write this review.

It was such an all-encompassing experience, as a matter of fact, that it's hard for me to summon up the distance to write a good review. Trying
Lynn Abbey
Aug 25, 2010 Lynn Abbey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Everything starts somewhere and Carol Berg's novels start with Transformation. Despite being 438 pages long (in the Roc mass market) and the first volume of a trilogy that promises to a world-changing confrontation of good v. evil, Transformation's really an intimate story of an evolving friendship between a silver-spoon prince (bearing the requisite hidden, unexpected mark of greatness) and a slave so consumed by survival, cynicism, and despair that he no longer recalls his own past. There's a ...more
May 09, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down and I had tears in my eyes before I had turned the hundredth page—that’s how compelling the characters were, right from the outset.

Simply, Transformation is the story of two men separated by about a decade, age-wise, and a much greater gap in experience. Seyonne is a slave and Zander is his lord. Seyonne has been a slave for sixteen years, his people captured by Zander’s. He is worn by time and experience, but is still himself—to a degree. Beneath his apparent res
Elin the Lightship
"You said it yourself, my lord. I am a slave, not a man. They'll not hear me when I speak."

Seyonne has been a slave for the past 16 years and he has been broken in both body and soul. In the eyes of his people he is broken beyond all repair.
For his knowledge in the art of reading and writing, he is introduced as the new scribe for the Prince - his new owner. His new Master.
The Prince Aleksander is a cruel and unforgiving man who's used to get everything served on a silver platter.
But demons hav
Sep 12, 2012 Aeslis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, paranormal
I find myself disinclined to like books with characters who are perpetually in distress. Not that I don't like tortured characters--I do, very much so--but when it's constant and relentless, I get worn down. Unfortunately, our main character, Seyonne, has this problem. He can't catch a break. He doesn't do anything wrong and yet he's threatened, beaten, starved, and put in isolation, among other things. Apparently in this world slaves aren't even treated with the decency of animals. Even after h ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, fantasy, reread, 10, 2007, 2013
ORIGINAL READ: 10/10 (18 September 2007 - 23 September 2007)

Transformation - Carol Berg (10/10)
Fantasy; book 1 of the Rai-Kirah.
Another fantastic series. Carol Berg writes original fantasy that walks the line of dark fantasy with every tipping over. So we get a solid story with strong, deep worldbuilding and fascinating characters who are never simple and always flawed. The story follows both the complicated, building friendship between the slave, Seyonne and his princely owner, but their battle
Apr 13, 2010 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Well crafted, complex characters, suspense, tension, battles with demons, a truly mixed hero, a prince who is spoiled beyond redemption and yet has a spark of something humane in his soul. Terrific read. Can't wait for the next one, Revelation.

Carol Berg is a true delight to read, after slogging my way through a couple of mediocre and endless books, a pleasure to make the spirit soar and restore one's faith in inspired fiction.
Notable attempt at a totally new fantasy world. Well conceived and executed.
Wow. WOW, Carol Berg, just… I have no words. Geez, it's like I have to drop every other book I've given 5 stars to down a notch just because they can't even come close to comparing to the power of this book...! I've just finished TRANSFORMATION and, as you can probably guess, was left utterly floored and overflowing with emotion. I don't think I've ever been so thoroughly transported by a book, and so *completely* too. Despite its length (not extreme, but it is substantial--and won't you be than ...more
Dec 28, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given how much I loved this book when I first read it, I wonder why it's taken me until now to do another read of it. This book is essentially a fantasy version of Alexander the Great's life, told from his slave's perspective. In many ways, I wish that Berg had either deviated more from the Alexander story or made it even more apparent, rather than thinly veiling that it's Alexander's story.

In Transformation, Seyonne battles his own hopeless situation-- his slavery, his people who wouldn't accep
Feb 22, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, non-earth
I'd say the best reason to read this is for its characters. The protagonist is Seyonne, a man who was once a magical-warrior prodigy and the shining star of his demon-hunting people before they got their butts kicked and he was captured on the battlefield, stripped of his magic, and sold into slavery for sixteen long years. Seyonne thinks that he's pretty much crushed all hope of being anything more than a slave and is just trying to survive as many days as he can, though he has a bare few point ...more
May 18, 2010 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It's been years since I read this book. I was still in high school. I remember reading it straight through lunch and then under my desk during class. I remember getting close to the climax during my ride home from school and rushing from the bus to my bedroom so I could lock myself in and finish reading the book undisturbed.

It stand out in my mind as a book I was caught completely off guard by. Something I bought at random that ended up sucking me in wholly and had me flipping pages straight on
Shari  Mulluane
Nov 14, 2008 Shari Mulluane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story with excellent characterization, an interesting system of magic and beliefs, plus just the right amount of world building. It only has one major flaw that I could find - it flew by too fast! From page one I was feeling a sympathetic connection to Seyonne followed by a true distaste for Aleksander, followed by amazement as Aleksander begins showing signs of compassion. I even got the impression that Seyonne and Aleksander were just as surprised by this as I was! Now that sho ...more
Transformation was simultaneously wonderful and very, very frustrating. To its credit, it is by far the most compellingly readable thing I’ve picked up in several months. On a technical level, it’s fantastic, and easily merits five stars. However, there was one major drawback for me and that… was that it felt like the central relationship of the book was a hair shy of being romantic, and would have been if the two main characters hadn’t both been male.

(Full review may be found here.)
Feb 18, 2012 Lady*M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I loved this as much as I did the first time. The transformation of Seyonne and Aleksander from slave and master to two men bound with the deepest, most intimate friendship possible (that is not romantic) and their individual transformations - for Aleksander from spoiled, arrogant and cruel prince to the man worthy of the Empire, for Seyonne from broken slave without hope to the warrior he had been - are the core, the heart of the novel. It is a beautiful story with original magic system. Lovely ...more
Maggie K
May 03, 2011 Maggie K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I so liked this book! Unlikely hero, bromance, superb world-building, exorcising demons even!
Berg can really spin a tale. I found myself entranced and sucked in to this world rather quickly. I definitely plan to move ont o the rest of the series....
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Carol Berg is the author of the epic fantasy
The Books of the Rai-kirah, The Bridge of D'Arnath Quartet, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winning Lighthouse Duet - Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone - the standalone novel Song of the Beast , and the three novels of the Collegia Magica.

Berg holds a degree in mathematics from Rice University, and a degree in computer science from the University of Co
More about Carol Berg...

Other Books in the Series

Rai-Kirah (4 books)
  • Revelation (Rai-Kirah, #2)
  • Restoration (Rai-Kirah, #3)
  • Elemental Magic (Moon #6.5; Rai-Kirah #0.5 )

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“So what is this feadnach? Is it another curse that makes me beholden to slaves and shrews?'
'No, my lord. It is your heart. Difficult as it may be to comprehend, there is a possibility you may have one.”
“From the instant of our first meeting I judged him so, though it could be said that I was prejudiced. When one is standing naked on a slave-auction block in a wind cold enough to freeze a demon's backside, one is unlikely to have a fair impression of anyone.” 5 likes
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