I always believe that books that evoke strong emotions shows how extraordinary it is. I am very much impressed by this book and I have enjoyed it very...moreI always believe that books that evoke strong emotions shows how extraordinary it is. I am very much impressed by this book and I have enjoyed it very much.
From the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series, I've gotten a taste of how Karen Miller loves to paint and portray her world. I believe this one takes it to the next level. Others have said that she has sloppy writing and bad sentence structure. I say this is her style. She chooses to paint a different world with a subtly different language. The criticism for using the "god-" prefix as being bland and unimaginative, I found to be just yet another example of how she chooses to portray the Mijaki society.
The stress is on how very much their religion plays a part in every aspect of their lives. I originally found the odd accents and words in The Innocent Mage to be odd; but I grew to love it - it's an aspect of her character building, giving her characters an extra level of depth. It's the same with this book. Especially when you contrast it with the people of the Riven Kingdom (book 2), the contrast is that much stronger - from the way they live, the way they speak, and they way they interact. I find myself liking this approach to world-building.
Her characters are all very strong and very well fleshed-out. From the arrogant, ambitious, and fanatical faith of Hekat, to the quiet acceptance and resilient faith of Vortka, they are all wonderful characters. Hekat, being the obvious protagonists, draws the most ire from readers. She's designed to draw hate, but I find her character extremely interesting. And given that the Mijaki are a warrior society threaded with a harsh and powerful religious belief, all her character are entirely believable. One only has to look at our real-world warrior societies to draw similarities, especially the Aztecs and the Incas with their ritual and frequent sacrifices.
The next bit that I find extremely intriguing and thought-invoking is her magic system - the ambiguous nature of this god entity that so controls the lives of the people of Mijak. The way she describes their communing with god, their omen readings, and their tests of faith, we have parallels in our world as well, and most of them are not divine, but mere chemistry andd biology. Yet she also describes smiting, sacrifices turning to ash, healing, and enchanted stones; these are obviously magical in nature. So the ambiguity is this: does the magic come from the divine, or is the magic inherent in its people or perhaps just the godspeakers? I love this ambiguity (though obviously other may prefer more certainty), and I find it to entirely fitting given the society of the Mijakis. A strongly religious society would never stop to question the source of the magic. They would merely accept it as so.
The finale sets the stage where Hekat's ambition (though she believes it to be faith) drives her to set her massive and brutal warhost loose upon an unsuspecting world, destroying all non-believers as sinners and demons. This act sets the stage for a rift between her and her devoted son, Zandakar, as well as the plot continuation into book 2.
I've started book 2 and I'm already looking forward to the finale to see how she intends to pit two very different societies against one another. (less)
A very interesting and atypical fantasy book told from the perspectives of a dragon society. Very imaginative storytelling that is well-told enough th...moreA very interesting and atypical fantasy book told from the perspectives of a dragon society. Very imaginative storytelling that is well-told enough that you can relate to the dragon protagonist.(less)
A satisfactory ending to a memorable trilogy. While I enjoyed it, I couldn't quite reach that "amazing" feeling. The great thing is that it resolves p...moreA satisfactory ending to a memorable trilogy. While I enjoyed it, I couldn't quite reach that "amazing" feeling. The great thing is that it resolves pretty much most of the loose ends. The epilogue even makes it a little open-ended enough for a book 4 or more (but... leaving it at that would be better).
The pacing was somewhat uneven. It starts off at a good pace, and then it sort of slows down and drags in the middle, when all the politics was going on. And then that sort of ends abruptly and the pace picks up again until the end.
There are two things I dislike about the book. One is Rhian's reflections and two is Alasdair. Rhian is... whiny. That's how she comes across. Sure, she's written to be strong and wilful and all, but she just comes across as irritating, the way she complains about people again and again. Zandakar this, Han that, Helfred this, Alasdair that (and that name is mentioned so many times, that once I rolled my eyes). For Alasdair, he's described as plain. And since he's not loved for his looks, I fail to see any redeeming qualities about him. He's stubborn, jealous, and over-protective. I really wouldn't want him as my king. Too bad thing didn't turn out as I hoped with regards to how the not-very-well-executed love triangle.
But aside from these two things, I enjoyed the rest of it - even that slow bit of politicking with the ambassadors. I loved how the plot was twined around faith, trust, and perseverance. I really enjoyed the whole story from Hekat's beginnings in the savage north of Mijak into the tragic end. It was a brilliant bit of storytelling. (less)
This anthology of multiple short stories set in the world of Shadowrun is a good compilation of stories. The way the various authors weaved each other...moreThis anthology of multiple short stories set in the world of Shadowrun is a good compilation of stories. The way the various authors weaved each other's tales into their one was very well done. The setting really comes alive.(less)
Seeing Melanie Rawn on the cover attracted me to this book as I had just finished reading her Sunrunners books. I did not regret it. This book tells a...moreSeeing Melanie Rawn on the cover attracted me to this book as I had just finished reading her Sunrunners books. I did not regret it. This book tells a vivid but tragic story of love and loss. The fact that they used paintings and painters with a touch of religious fervor to great effect is a masterful touch.(less)
After the awesomeness of book one, book two feels dull, especially considering it's very typical medieval, European, patriarchal, semi-religious setti...moreAfter the awesomeness of book one, book two feels dull, especially considering it's very typical medieval, European, patriarchal, semi-religious setting. The plot on its own was fine - your typical girl overcomes sexist, political, and religious opposition - but with the setting and a cast of rather uninteresting characters, makes this a very safe, and thus plain, story.
The Riven Kingdom is about the struggle of power within a kingdom who has lost its king and its two male heirs. Females are viewed as being weaker than males, with the church championing this viewpoint. It's state versus church. The plot follows Rhian as she escapes church control and wrests back the reins of power.
Rhian swings between being a spoilt, whinny girl to a bossy, arrogant woman with an attitude problem. I suppose she's meant to be flawed and tries to do her best to be strong, but it came across as annoying and not likeable (pretty irritated by the sheer amount of "Oh, Alasdair" from her).
Helfred comes across as a weaker variant of Vortka, and that's unfortunate. Zandakar's around and he's all right, except I'm not sure how I feel about those around picking up on his language mannerisms instead of the other way round. Dexterity (a weird name if you ask me) and Ursa are fine characters, just not very stand-out.
Like I mentioned above, the plot is fine - a peaceful and neutral kingdom looking at a potential civil war scenario - what I didn't like were its characters. This is unfortunate, considering how I've liked rooted for Asher (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series), Hekat, and their surrounding casts. The ones in this book are not very interesting and somewhat one-dimensional.
The over-arching plot is coming along nicely, making me look forward to the inevitable good versus evil conflict. Hekat is on the evil side obviously, and I'm going to root for Hekat (but not quite Dmitrak). Unfortunately, this typical medieval kingdom is probably going to prevail instead. Definitely want to see how it ends. (less)