Geomancer by Ian Irvine

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Book Information  
AuthorIan Irvine
SeriesThe Well of Echoes
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Brys 
(Mar 28, 2006)

The first thing I want to say is this - it's not terrible. The rest of the review may seem pretty negative, but fantasy has worse on offer. It has potential. There are some very good ideas behind it - original, imaginative even. Perhaps not brilliant ideas, but at least a change from the rather tiresome cliches that have dominated epic fantasy for the last few decades. There's a relatively mechanised setting - machines are all important in war, and war, of course, is a central factor in the novel. But the novel begins in a factory which creates these machines, and particular, with our protagonist, Tiaan, who helps to create the crystals that drive these machines. But they begin to fail, and with a certain amount of scheming (rather simplistic I must admit), she is sent to the Breeding Factory. We are given but a glimpse of a rather unpleasant side of society, but as this is, after all, a traditional epic fantasy, the deus ex machina happens, Tiaan escapes and discovers that she is a "Geomancer". Out comes the standard epic fantasy plot, and it doesn't progress any differently than you would expect. The plot may not be an absolute carbon copy of Lord of the Rings in the way that many other fantasy novels are, but it's riddled with cliches. The characters have the barest hints of depth and ambiguity. There are even a couple of slightly interesting revelations. So far, it seems we've got something better than the average fantasy novel. And indeed, that's what I was hoping this would turn out to be. There's even one character in it that shows significant imagination and intelligence to use - someone with hyper-developed senses, who finds the very touch of clothes too painful to bear, the sound of a whisper too much.
But there is one unforgivable lapse in this novel. The writing. The prose was absolutely awful.I don't know how it got past the editor, but the prose kept me from being able to enjoy any part of the story. Fantasy may not be renown for it's prose, but even compared to the average fantasy novel this was horrible. The first few chapters could have been written by a child, and been written better. Still, it might be worth reading if everything else was excellent quality. But no - what's offered is a glimpse of potential,but your hope is shattered as Irvine combines painful writing with a story that becomes more and more predictable and unrealistic. The clever ideas are quickly forgotten in the pursuit of a goal for conformity to the Tolkien ideal. Sure enough, there's a quest. There's a prophecy. And the urban, challenging, dystopian environment are left unexplored as the plot is changed artificially. By the end of the novel, Irvine had proved that with a decent editor, and a bit of thought on his part, he could have written something worthwhile. As it is, I see no point in reading the rest of the series that shows now that it will only worsen. I hope that he tries something new, something that doesn't conform to a romantic ideal - an aim to write art, not to write a bestseller.

Submitted by Christophe na Champassak 
(Mar 25, 2006)

This book, or perhaps tome as my friends and I have often joked, is quite simply the best book I have ever read. I recieved it as a birthday present in late 2001 and have read it (and the other books from the 'Well of Echoes' quartet) 3 times since.

For those of you who dont want to read the following block of text: This is a top notch read, 8 of my friends have read this book - all very different people - and every one of them has enjoyed it.

Ian Irvine writes with an amazing ability to almost imediatly engage the reader, partially due to the intricate detail of his world 'Santhenar' but mostly due to his extraordinary characters. From the first chapter we are able to sympathize with his characters on a fundamental level, the way they go about their work, how they approach problems and so forth. This relationship we share with the characters makes the whole world seem all the more real, threats and challenges seem that much more difficult to overcome and nowhere in the novel do we get that feeling of invulnerability often associated with characters like 'Richard Rahl', 'Pug conDoin', 'Carrot Ironfounderson' and even 'Harry Potter'.
From the first we feel the plight of the three main characters (Tiaan, Nish and Irisis) and indeed humanity on that world, we feel dread as Thurkad (the largest, oldest and most magnificent human city on Santhenar) falls to the alien invaders with a particular taste for human flesh and the last bastions of human strength seem to fail.
As with Tolkien's writings there is always something else to it, a richness of the plot, the destinct feeling that there is more then meets the eye - the origin of the alien Lyrnx for instance and the tyranical iron rule of the Council of Scrutators. These mysteries also help us relate to the characters.
But unlike Tolkien, we have a double faction view of the plot which more often then not makes us groan and say "If only....". For example in the first few chapters Tiaan runs away from her rescuers desperate to retrieve her talents because she believes they wish to execute her.

All in all, this book will engage you with its fast paced evolution of the plot, the depth of each character's personality and the intrigue following hints of vast resevoirs of unknown information.

Submitted by J. Robson 
(Apr 02, 2005)

I read the Geomancer book almost a year ago, but I can still remember everything that happened [largely due to the fact I am on the last book of the series, Chimera]. I adored this book. It follows the story of Tiaan Liise-Mar, a brilliant young artisan at the manufactory in Tiksi. The novel is set on the world of Santhenar, in which humanity and the lyrinx, great creatures from beyond the void, wage a desperate war for control of the world. Tiaan is set the task of solving a great mystery, and Irisis, her rival artisan, is jealous in the extream. Nish, a young artificer, is highly attracted to Tiaan, but is spurned by her. He is seduced by Irisis and conspires with her against Tiaan. Each has their reason, Nish revenge and Irisis jealousy. But when Tiaan is pronunced mad and sent to the breeding factory, they are informed of the atrocity they have comited and Tiaan is sent for immediately. However, she has escaped and discovered she is a Geomancer. Geomancy is the most powerful, and most deadly of the Secret Art's. Nish and Irisis are sent to find her. I wont spoil the rest for you. Only know that this is the greatest series of books I have ever read. It is the second quartet set in Santhenar, and I have not read the first [The View from the Mirror, which I intend to read], but reading the first is not nesissery to understand the plot or the world in Geomancer, Tetrarch and the others. Mr. Irvine has created a brilliant world in Geomancer, and rumor has it that several more books are coming out as a seperate story, also set in Santhenar. If such books do come out, I fully intend to read them, such is the brilliance of Mr. Irvine's world of Santhenar.

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