The book is an interesting study of the Elizabethan age, but I feel like it suffers from over-ambition and lack of clear direction. It covers so muchThe book is an interesting study of the Elizabethan age, but I feel like it suffers from over-ambition and lack of clear direction. It covers so much that it often loses its way. Each chapter is interesting, but usually devolves from its theme into lengthy tangents before returning, and the chapters are not put together in a very coherent order. There are no clear transitions from topic to topic and the author jumps back and forth between them at random, seemingly finishing off one topic only to suddenly return to it six or more chapters later without warning. It reads more like a series of separate essays re-purposed and roughly stuck together than a cohesive book. It meanders its way along and I'm left a bit mystified as to any overall point or theme - not even the author's rather wishy-washy preface sticks. Still, I learnt some interesting things....more
I found this book really interesting. The story was good, but the thing that I found the most fascinating was the way Sarah's interpretation of her faI found this book really interesting. The story was good, but the thing that I found the most fascinating was the way Sarah's interpretation of her faith and understanding of her role as an anchoress developed from the start to the end. She entered the life seeking isolation and to cut off all connection to the world, thinking that would both help herself heal and serve a higher purpose (which seemed to be not actually out of any genuine faith but more of a selfish "I'm holier than though" type of reason), and yet by the end of it connection was really the key to her life as an anchoress. It was also interesting how Ranaulf went through a similar, though less extreme, journey.
The book was also well written, with a lot of imagery, and Sarah's non-visual senses becoming more important to her, making what could have been a tedious situation (limited characters in very limited space) still a rich experience. Flashbacks are also handled well, with just enough revealed that meaning and interest are held without giving too much away or falling into the trap of the exposition dump....more
The final book in a trilogy often falls flat, but not so with this one! Every bit as good as the first two. I was a bit wary about it - after all, theThe final book in a trilogy often falls flat, but not so with this one! Every bit as good as the first two. I was a bit wary about it - after all, they'd defeated the big baddie in the last book, so what was left that could possibly take up a whole extra book? A lot, it turns out. Not just plot-wise (which was very good, enough action and intrigue to keep things interesting and not feeling like it was just tying up loose ends), but also in terms of the characters, who still had a lot of growth to go through. That was especially good, since the effects of a traumatic situation don't end the moment you get out of the situation - something that is acknowledged and handled very well and realistically by Spurrier. The only thing that irritated me a bit was that at times that character growth was a bit too slow - e.g. Isidro's depressed monologues and Cam's refusal to see anything but evil in Rasten got a bit repetitive. But that was only a minor complaint. The writing, as usual, was spot on. All in all, an excellent end to an excellent trilogy. Also, I absolutely adore the titles of the three books - very poetic and intriguing (and why I picked them up in the first place!)...more
Even better than the first book. Everything I said in that review still stands, and has been improved upon. Characters are explored even further, evenEven better than the first book. Everything I said in that review still stands, and has been improved upon. Characters are explored even further, even more impossible choices have to be made, there is no such thing as good and evil and the plot doesn't get bogged down anywhere. Also, the action scenes are very well written, especially the final climax - it's very easy to visualise what's going on while still keeping up the fast pace needed (something I have often seen good writers fail at miserably)...more
My first thoughts were that it's nice to see a setting that actually takes winter seriously - not just, "ooh the trees are so pretty covered in snow bMy first thoughts were that it's nice to see a setting that actually takes winter seriously - not just, "ooh the trees are so pretty covered in snow but it doesn't make a bit of difference to life", but practical "It's so cold you'll die if you try to travel unprepared and this is a large reason behind why clans exist". This is a harsh and brutal landscape and the characters are forced to respect it. (It's also good to see a fantasy that's not preoccupied with the typical stone castles and European-style woodlands etc.)
The second impression was that the plot was going to be interesting, and it didn't disappoint. It takes off fast with Sierra escaping her captors and plunges straight into survival/political and ideological complications/deal with the invaders-who-btw-have-their-own-hidden-agenda goodness. You have to pay attention at the start to get your head around what's going on in the world as it's quite a complex situation and magical set-up, but that soon eases up. I should warn that things get very dark at times and while it's not explicitly graphic it is intense - triggers abound, so avoid if you have trauma in your past that may be brought up.
That darkness to the plot and the world also makes the characters interesting - we get a feel for them from several different perspectives and you start to realise just how murky a concept good and evil is. The characters all have depths to them that are explored deftly and largely manage to avoid being cliches.
Really the only issue I had with the whole book was that just as I was thinking how refreshing it was that the main character hadn't once been simplistically described as "beautiful"... bam! Insta-love (my pet hate) occurs in the space of one chapter. The author tries to save it by having the two characters involved have a bit of internal "I've only known them a week I know this can't be love" thoughts, but they're not fooling anyone. And I get that it's important for certain plot elements that these two characters have a good reason to be so dedicated to each other, but it just felt like it was done in a rush to fulfil that purpose. And as I said, instant love is a pet peeve of mine so other people may not mind it so much....more
This is one of Lackey's better books, with a fast-moving plot and well-handled emotional turmoil. Some of the characters are a bit weak, but Lan is stThis is one of Lackey's better books, with a fast-moving plot and well-handled emotional turmoil. Some of the characters are a bit weak, but Lan is strong enough to carry the whole book ... which he does. Even though I knew what was going to happen to him before I started, I kept reading because I wanted to see how his thought processes and the events that happened would lead to that point. One of my favourite Valdemar books, and it's nice that it's a standalone....more