Jane Routley's Reviews > Avaryan Rising

Avaryan Rising by Judith Tarr
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's review
Apr 16, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy

I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of Judith Tarr despite the fact that Avarayan Resplendent as the second trilogy in a series might not have been the best place to start.
The great Avarayan empire is ruled by the children of the Sun God who wield great magic and live much longer than mere mortals, but the three novels in this omnibus edition focus primarily on their humanity
In Arrows of the Sun the young Estarion, emperor of twin empires is forced to leave the beloved Endros part of his empire for the hated and mistrusted Asanion. Here amidst the suffocating protocols of the golden palace where he witnessed the assassination of his own father many years before he is surrounded by deadly plots and counter plots. Though Estarion finds passion, he is forced to make great sacrifices to perceive his life and throne. This was my favourite novel of the three mostly because I enjoyed watching the arrogant yet humorous and charming Estarion learn how to be an emperor.
The protagonist of the second book Spear of Heaven the Emperors wilful heir and grand daughter the Sun born Daruya is less charming. Why are all the women with power in these books and indeed in lots of fantasy so grouchy and humourless? I know power can be a burden but the male protagonist manages to wear his power much more comfortably Fortunately the other viewpoint character her six year old daughter Merian is more fun and the story is superb set in a kind of Himalayan Shangri-la. Our protagonists have left the Twin Empires to investigate the causes of broken Worldgates. A wonderful portrait of cultural clashes and some subtle political manoeuvring ensues. Interestingly naive view of the relations between small and large countries given the current state of American foreign policy, mind you, but this is fantasy after all. It would be churlish to make too much of this.
In book three, Tides of Darkness features Merian again but as an adult. She too has lost her sense of humour now she has become powerful, but this doesn’t really matter as the male protagonists are once again fun. Sorcerers come in the night, kidnap whole villages and turn them into zombies. The world gates suddenly become to dangerous to use and Estarion finds himself stranded in another world entirely a world which is very like the ancient Egypt of our world almost no magic and as Merian, Estarion and a delinquently young mage join forces, a terrifying conspiracy that effects thousands of worlds is revealed.
The writing style has an olde worldly feel which ties in nice with the ancient empire feel of the world, but isn’t hard to read and can at time be luminous poetic. A wonderfully realised world with a marvellous ancient history feel leaning toward the Ancient Egyptian but taking in other cultures as well (it is after all a very large empire) and well worked out magic. Each story had a kernel of romance in the centre and and exciting twist in its tale. This is fantasy for those who like intricate tales of political manoeuvring rather than great sagas of sword fighting and daring do. The three books bound as one look daunting but the trilogy was a real page turner. Good-O!
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