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Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb

  (29 ratings)

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Book Information  
AuthorRobert Newcomb
TitleFifth Sorceress
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous 
(Mar 09, 2009)

This book is treated as a God in my household. After years of listening to people rant on about "harry potter" and how it was the best example of fantasy for years, i felt like giving up on the genre. However, as soon as i picked up this book i was hooked. The creatures are intelligently created, bloodstalkers and minions etc. They didn't just appear out of nowhere, they had purpose, they had meaning. Yes, it took a while to get up to the coronation scene, but as soon as i reached it i couldn't relieve my hands of the heavy book in them. I love how Robert isn't afraid to make his characters suffer, how many times does Tristan get his ass kicked within the first book? Many! Aswell as the other characters, they suffer from mental abuse and physical abuse, all of which make their characters more interesting. The sorceress were well written, however i believe some were rather useless and i would have enjoyed looking into their characters a bit more.
The ghetto of the shunned was easily imagined in my head, and the characters within it were likeable. I have read every book in this series and i believe the first is the best. Robert Newcomb is a genius when it comes to fight scenes, describing the fight so vividly i can imagine it in my thoughts like a movie.
I found myself thinking about this book days after i read it. I read this book within 2 days and considering it is 800 pages long in my version, that is a notable record. The book kept me turning throught he fast, driven scenes and didn't put it down until i had read the end of the sneak preview of gates of dawn.
Kudos to Robert Newcomb for making me believe in fantasy novels again!

Submitted by Martin 
(Aug 25, 2006)

As fantasy writers go, Robert Newcomb has a pretty good imagination and can apply it to a plot. But unfortunately, that's his only attribute as a writer. I have read nearly 150 fantasy books in the past 5 years and for me this was bottom of the pile by a long way. The only reason I managed to finish it at all was because it was so unremittingly bad that that began to hold a sort of fascination in itself.

His technical writing skills are very poor indeed - continual repetition of pet phrases and vocabulary, interminable background information dumps in the form of daydreams and reminiscences and a POV that flitters around like his butterflies.

His idea of suspense is introduce a new scene of carnage with words like "what he saw next would remain lodged in his memories forever". Or, as an alternative in plot suspense, characters around the protaganist, Tristan, hold back vital information while thinking thoughts like "If only I could tell him the real truth" - without ever presenting a compelling reason why they shouldn't.

Characters are cardboard thin and evoke very little empathy or antipathy - even when taken to comic extremes of good and evil. I was shocked when it was first revealed that Tristan was a philanderer and it took me a while to realise that this was because Newcomb's best attempt at producing a dissolute, disaffected 29 year old king-in-waiting had actually succeeded in conveying a sulky 12 year old brat with about as much strength of character and kingliness as - well.. a 12 year old sulking brat. OTOH, Necomb's Gandalf fascimile, Wegg, is ancient and gruff - we know this not because of what he says or does but because of his 'infamous eyebrow' and his 'ancient fingers'.

Newcomb may endear himself to some readers with his graphic depictions on depravity and torture - the only time when the writing seems to have any gusto. Unfortunately this is done against a backdrop of unrelenting misogynism - his female characters are either ludicrously evil or Miss goody two shoes - there isn't a rounded female character in sight.

Thank goodness that in the real world there are characters like J.V James, Lois McMaster Bujold and Cecilia Dart-Thornton, as far beyond Newcomb's writing as his characters are beyond belief.

Submitted by Andrew 
(May 28, 2005)

Good premise? Yes. Good array of characters? In a way, yes. Bad execution? Oh yeah!

You can't help feel that Newcomb thought he was really onto something when he first came up with the idea for the Fifth Sorceress. Personally, I think he was onto something. There are several ideas put forth in the book that are rather interesting but loads of things bring it down.

Newcomb doesn't seem to understand weapons at all. The Minion sword would be laughed at by most swords smiths in our world. Swords do not have moving parts! If a minion sword was real it would have to be hollow, I don't think I need to explain why thats a bad thing.

Also the Minion commander mentions his returning wheel still having the blood from those he killed weeks ago, have they ever heard of cleaning their weapons? Whether it be bronze, iron or steel, blood ruins the blade if left on for too long.

Is it just me or is there sex mentioned in every chapter? Also at the end Wigg uses some magic after 1) Having his magic torn from him (although I could suspend my belief and say that when the coven dies he regains his power) BUT 2) The paragon is not active, it's being 'virginised' in the thing (been a while since I read it so forgive me) The whole reason the Minions first gained their advantage was because the Wizards couldn't use magic while the paragon was in this state.

Characters are bland in some cases and the story plods on for what seems like an eternity!

Like myself and others have said, good idea but badly written.

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