**spoiler alert** I should start by saying that I really like the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology and adore Karen Miller’s Rogue Agent series under the...more**spoiler alert** I should start by saying that I really like the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology and adore Karen Miller’s Rogue Agent series under the name K.E. Mills. However, in total the whole Godspeaker trilogy left me somewhat underwhelmed. From a purely technical side it is extremely well done with the first book Empress focusing on Mikak’s rise from slave to Empress of the desert nation and her relationship with the god. The action in the second book switches entirely to the island kingdom of Ethrea where Rhian fights for her crown against a society which expects men to rule. The parallels between these two strong women who have such similar journeys but end up in completely different places really comes to the fore in this book. Everything from their relationship with god and being ‘chosen’, to their warrior queen reputation is mirrored – even to their facial scars!
I full appreciate what Karen Miller did in the whole trilogy – and you need to rad all three to fully appreciate the scale - but what was slightly disappointing was the lack of action in this final book. The vast majority of the story was set at council meetings where people argued. A lot. I like a bit of political intrigue but there wasn’t much in here – simply people disagreeing with each other. Eventually this all ended in a huge battle, but even that was washed over with many key characters fates decided ‘off screen’. There was something about the whole series that I didn’t click with – it’s not bad at all and rather cleverly done, but I didn’t invest much into the story or care deeply for the characters(less)
The first couple of chapters were a bit a struggle to read as it seemed to blend high fantasy concepts such as Magic and Wizard staffs with a modern s...moreThe first couple of chapters were a bit a struggle to read as it seemed to blend high fantasy concepts such as Magic and Wizard staffs with a modern setting (Bureaucratic safety checks), while a disaster is occurring but after that I got to grips with the world. The hero was not an anti-hero, nor was he heroic, but he has a moral core and won’t run away when people need help and really suffers when he makes the wrong choices. The world seemed real – much closer to the real world than most fantasy worlds. And while not Terry Prachett funny the frumpy princess, the know-it-all bird and the butterfly mad prince where all strong characters that raised a wry chuckle or two. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
The Spirit Rebellion picks up shortly after the end of The Spirit Thief with Miranda returning to the Spirit Court having let Monpress go in exchange...moreThe Spirit Rebellion picks up shortly after the end of The Spirit Thief with Miranda returning to the Spirit Court having let Monpress go in exchange for his help and Eli and his friends looking for a replacement cloak for Nico, the demon seed. This is a more than satisfying second course from Rachel Aaron. We learn more about Eli’s past as well as hints about the demon seed maturing in Nico. In addition there is some element of the politics Miranda has to deal with. I love her constant ethical dilemma between obeying the Spirit Court and doing what is best for her own spirits – even if she was feeling a little sorry for herself at one point. Luckily her spirit-hound is able to keep her from wallowing too much.
My favourite thing about this series are the conversations between characters – they banter, they complain and there is little exposition so it is through actions that you discover what is happening. The magic system of this world is fantastically original to me with everything having its own spirit – doors, roofs, wheels, wind, fire and even roads with wizards being people who can hear what these spirits have to say and able to persuade them to do certain things. This means that at times it’s the ‘inanimate’ objects that the characters are fighting against.
The writing is easy to slip into and you go through pages like a shark through the water – smoothly and devouring. Eli is a charming anti-hero with his swordsman playing more a straight hero role – at least as far as Nico is concerned. My one regret about The Spirit Rebellion is that Miranda and Eli didn’t get to spend much time together – I would have a loved a lot more flirting and to see them rub each other up the wrong way! Now I’ve had my starter and fish course – I’m hoping for a strong third course (and a meal with plenty more courses to come!). J
Recommended for fans of Patricia Briggs and Karen Miller(less)
Set at the time of Napoleon invasion of Russia, the story pulls you straight into the time and place – and it’s an era and a country I don’t much abou...moreSet at the time of Napoleon invasion of Russia, the story pulls you straight into the time and place – and it’s an era and a country I don’t much about, but there are plenty of details that put me right into the thick of it. Following the adventures of Danilov and his three compatriots as they attempt to use guerrilla warfare to slow down and spy on the French army – a seemingly hopeless task until they recruit twelve mysterious mercenaries who’s skills with butchering and sending fear into the French army is more than impressive.
Like velvet, this story will provide smoothing shades and comforting prose if you like historical novels with a hint of supernatural and some philosophical discussions. There are many asides where the soldiers discuss the nature of war and the moral rights and wrongs. However, for some people this may rub them the wrong way. Personally I loved the extra layers the discussions about humanity which gave the book extra depth and raised it above being another historical swashbuckler. Not to say there isn’t plenty of action as Danilov and his companions race ahead and behind Napoleon’s army and creep around occupied Moscow. In fact I could detect a hint of the Three Musketeers about the whole adventure! Towards the middle of the book, the preternatural element comes to the fore with Danilov’s suspicions on the twelve. From then on the blood and gore is increased with some gruesome elements – not for weak stomachs. But as one of the characters mentions, it is war time. The writing was thick and warming – like a thick coat on snowy days. I loved the historical setting, the natural introduction of the supernatural, the under siege mentality of the Russians of the period and really enjoyed this foray into historical supernatural.
Recommended for fans of Alexandre Dumas and Conn Iggulden. 8.5 out of 10. (less)