|Buy now at Amazon.com!|
When I reached the end last night, my first thought was, "Darn it! She left me hanging!". Of course, this is book 1 of a duology, so I knew it would be a cliffhanger, but I was still sad to see it end where it did, even though it went out with a splash!
The book centers around the legendary and immortal Shanallar (Meena), who has gone by many names and influenced countless peoples over the centuries. Now, she's out to destroy the Dire Tome, a book of unspeakable evil that the other characters are on a quest to find after the Shanallar herself hid it away long ago. Meena's character alone was lovable from the start. She's brash, throws manners out the window, is easily irritated by those she decides to protect, but she also possesses this motherly instinct that emerges now and then and really endeared me to her character. The other main characters--Geret, the young prince of Vint, his protector/rival Salvor, and Sanych, a fifteen-year-old female archivist with a gift for memory--are young, naive, and change a lot over the course of the book. There is a definite coming-of-age theme here among these young people and also a bit of a love triangle, which did indeed pique my interest. What can I say? I'm a romance-a-holic.
Add to the interesting characters, some fantastic settings and unique cultures--and here is a recipe for a true fantasy tale that takes you to places you could hardly imagine. The characters and settings are truly the books strengths, in my opinion.
I admit I've not read much in the high/epic fantasy department. My reads tend to be lighter, shorter, on the more romantic side. And while the story itself was strong, I stumbled on some really lengthy descriptions and information that the author could have omitted and not suffered for it. Some of the fantasy names for people and places I had a hard time pronouncing in my head, and there were several words in the prose itself I needed to look up in a dictionary. Perhaps my own vocabulary skills were to blame for that one, but the words could have been substituted with simpler ones and the story would have been just fine.
Other than those minor wordy issues, this book was amazing. The writing is superb, and I can tell the author did her homework in describing mechanical issues of ships, etc. It's a well-planned, full-fledged fantasy tale. Read it. You won't be disappointed.