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|Submitted by Nathan |
(Aug 10, 2008)
In this book, the first in a trilogy, elements both familiar and strange are implemented. Though the story of a soldier's conflicting loyalties is far too often used in fantasy, it captures interest and commands sympathy. Wyl Thirsk is the son of the great general of Morgravia, and as such is destined to lead the armies after his father. When his father perishes in battle, Wyl and his younger sister are sent to Stoneheart, the capital of the kingdom. It is here that Wyl meets Celimus for the first time. in spite of the promise their future collaboration presents, it is instantly and painfully clear that they could never be friends. Celimus is sadistic and self-centered, but, being the only child of the King, the things are overlooked, ignored, and, in the worst cases, supported.
In the next few years, their hatred for each other only deepens, and it culminates in a treacherous mission to a neighboring country, a hopeless mission of diplomacy to avert further bloodshed between the two lands. Wyl is well aware that he will likely be killed, but is given little choice by Celimus, who has recently ascended to the throne.
But Wyl harbors a secret, a thing with such power that it will save his life, a thing that will lead him to more sadness than he could ever guess.
The short chapters make the book easier to read, and the plot makes it hard to put down. Good and evil is polarized in this first book, at times to a comical extent, but it is nonetheless interesting to see how the most blaring examples of morality and immorality are forced to move in ever-deepening shades of gray. The world is undeveloped in the first installment, little more than a whisper among the endless monologue of character development, but it is barely noticed in the richness of the characters.
The tangible sense of dread and inevitability, the saturation of sorrow and loss, make this a must for readers who are looking for an honest depiction of human emotion. A good beginning for a series with much promise.
|Submitted by Amaunette |
(Jul 06, 2006)
If you're looking for bland epic fantasy with a (small) twist, this book is for you.
Fiona McIntosh has written a tolerable first novel in a trilogy, the elements of which are competely familiar to any fantasy reader. Here, we are presented with the story of Wyl Thirsk, General of Morgravia. The title of General is inherited, and so Wyl has been trained since birth to arms, strategy, and command. This, at least, is better than the "farmboy" ploy we are already well tired of. Wyl grew up in the country, loves "common folk," and hates evil of all sorts. The villain, Celimus, is the rightful heir and King of Morgravia. Celimus is evil, loves no one, and especially hates the common peasants he is forced to deal with. Upon Wyl's father's death, Wyl was sent to in the castle Stoneheart with Celimus to learn his duties as General, whereupon the two developed an immediate and total dislike. Wyl could hardly stand the torture, rape, and murderous pursuits Celimus was inclined towards. This is all, in my mind, background to the real story, which begins when Wyl is ordered on a diplomatic mission, away from Morgravia. Then, the twist comes into play.
The summary I have given so far should make it obvious that all elements of this story are transparent and recycled. What's worse, the heroes are *totally* good, and the villains are *completely* evil, no shades of gray in between. The twist, which I shall attempt to refrain from mentioning for fear of spoiling the story, is also familiar but perhaps infrequently used in fantasy, which makes it almost novel. If it were not for this twist, I probably would have given up on the book. The story and writing are mediocre, and the twist is the only thing that makes this book worth reading. The caveat is that I have not finished the whole series, and so it is unclear exactly whether or not the story will improve from this book onwards. I can only hope the author can infuse some more creativity into what is an almost boring first book.
In short, this book is mind candy -- it's sweet, easy to swallow, and can give you a boost when you need it, but it's no substitute for a good meal.