Pygmy's Reviews > Territory

Territory by Emma Bull
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Jan 22, 08

bookshelves: fantasy, western
Read in January, 2008

Well-written with a great premise. The magic is under-the-radar, as befitting a Wild West environment where black magic ranks up there with loonies and boiling cats. Sorcerers (but not the hocus-pocus kind) work behind the scenes trying to manipulate and seize control of the land without alerting the attention of commonfolk, several more people wander through the chaos without a clue of the sorcerous talent they posess, while others are in a state of denial about their abilities even as circumstances force them to use their magic to defend themselves and others. In a sense, it's very much how you might handle a story of ESPers, or mutants. Except instead of your standard angsty hero/assassin/agent in spandex or leather, you have such dark luminaries as Doc Holliday, Johnny Ringo, and Wyatt Earp, with a few well-developed original characters thrown in.

Despite all this promise, however, the book does fall short. I was halfway through the book before I started getting a clue as to where the story was leading. But even then it was pretty hazy, though I supposed that all the slow, deliberate tension was going to lead up to some dramatic shoot-out at the end. I was sort of right, and mostly wrong. Something big did happen at the end, only it was off-screen and we were only told about it after the fact in a verbal confrontation with the prime antagonist who wasn't even there. And then the ending fluffled in, with the story and conflict not to be resolved until the next book. Shall we say unsatisfying? I wouldn't mind the mild meanderings of this volume if I had the 2nd one ready to be read, but no, I'm going to have to wait at least a year for the follow-up to be published. So even though it well-written and interesting, the first volume cannot stand on its own. Instead of a movie, it felt more like a tv series that took half a season to start before getting cancelled.
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