Ancient Future Series by Traci Harding
The Dark Ages series have been some of my favourite books for many years now. While some obvious issues such as the use of modern-day slang making its way into the Welsh language can sometimes sting you out of the story for the most part the books make for interesting and captivating reading.
The complaint that Tory is a mary-sue is one that I have heard voiced commonly and I have to say that her flaws are not well depicted but the reason this never bothered me was that she is one of the ‘chosen’ and therefore she is meant to be the ultimate incarnation of herself. To me this would mean she has grown past a lot of petty flaws. That was how I chose to see it in any case and thus her continuous journey into perfecting herself further (travelling to enlightenment) never bothered me.
This is also why the fact that she ‘conveniently’ speaks fluent Brythanic and is a black belt did not bother me. I viewed it all as part of the divine plan that she become an influence in history so they armed her with the correct tools. It, in my opinion, always made perfect sense.
Once I read the first book and got through some initial confusion over the number of difficult place names and person names (mainly those of the various incarnations of the characters) which are thrown at you in rapid succession, I was hooked. I was very excited to discover that after this trilogy Traci Harding had written another and read them without being disappointed.
They remain some of my favourite books tying in history with a solid, interesting plot and presenting many ‘what if’ situations which provoke thought. Spirituality is definitely something which could have turned me off the books but it has been written in such an interesting light that I had no difficulty eating it up.
While there may be some issues with the use of the Welsh language I do not have a great enough knowledge in this area for it to bother me at all.
I would and have highly recommended this books for anyone who is interested in medieval history and a good, captivating read where you will fall in love with the characters again and again.
Submitted by Cole
Looked promising. As an avid fantasy reader I have often noticed these books in the fantasy section of my local bookstore.
When I read it however, within the first few pages, it had dashed my hopes.
How disappointing to find something of this quality is a national best-seller, and not only that, but it to be described as a "beautiful read" and actually be accepted for publication.
Having read older reviews by several people, who have concluded that the series is for teenagers - well, I beg to differ. I only recently turned eighteen, and I can tell you absolute certainty that this book would have repelled me just as much when I was fifteen and reading David Eddings, as much as it did yesterday while trying to plough through it.
I mean, for crying out loud woman, do a google search!
This book made me despair for the future of the Australian Fantasy industry.
Thank god for people like Kate Forsyth, Sara Douglass, Isobelle Carmody and Fiona McIntosh.
And if people want to see true beauteous fantasy?
Read Robin Hobb.
If you think Harding is good, Hobb will blow your mind.
Submitted by Fred
First up, I have to say I'm heartily glad that I didn't pay full price for this book, having picked it up in a bookseller's discount bin. Within a few pages I was sure that I was reading a book aimed at the "young" end of the market. It was also very obvious that the writer was female (at the risk of sounding sexist) because the writer's lack of knowledge of weapons and military tactics and structures was obvious. A double ended sword used by Tory early in the piece is described as having an "iron rod" in the middle as a handle. This made a "treasure" sound more like a piece trotted out by a blacksmith.
Frankly, I found it alarming while reading the Acknowledgements, before even starting on the novel, to have the author describe her work as a "beautiful read". It is not. The overuse of adjectives makes the work read like a high school exercise in creative writing, and many are inconsistent or weak. For instance, one of the male characters is described as having startlingly blue eyes, which a few sentences later are described as "fiery". Looking at another person with "evil" eyes tells one what about their expression? Can any reader imagine what a look with "evil" eyes involves?
A very large issue I have with the book is the continued use of "thee, thy and thine" to give the impression of antiquity, when these words come from Old English... which originates from Saxon, the barbaric enemy throughout much of the book! Another issue is that Tory speaks Brythonic Celtic (Welsh) fluently, with no thought or mention of the fact that she would not necessarily speak the dialect of the time and region, just as a Modern English speaker would have extreme difficulty speaking with an Old English speaker, and an Old English speaker of 1150 AD would have difficlty talking with an Anglo-Saxon speaker of say 900 AD, especially if the came from York and London respectively. Irony in the extreme when one realises that Anglo-Saxon with a later addition of Old Norse completely replaced the earlier Celtic dialects throughout much of Britain.
So would I recommended this book to an adult audience? No. I'll be passing my copy to my teenaged daughter, and definitely won't be following up on the rest of the trilogy.
Submitted by Jenny
The Ancient Future really captivated me and held me spell bind until I had finished the book.
Full of mystical creatures and the history of Britain, with great twists and turns and the use of the old Britannic language broadened my understanding of the whole background and entranced me to read more. The text was in my opinion very well written with occasional errors yet the storyline is what makes up for it. For those who love a great storyline this is the book to read.
Traci Harding’s interpretations of the characters were really descriptive and made you wish they weren’t all just part of a book. Their individual personalities and humour was entertaining and so was the confusion between love and lust made it a hot sentiment which made me fall in love with the characters more. The trials that the characters went through made them grow and created a strong bond with them all even after many incarnations.
As a young reader, everyone knows it is hard to persuade us to ‘read’ especially with movies drawing the young in yet The Ancient Future did capture my attention and more. It is a wonderfully written story of a heroine and the trials which she must go through from time travel to developing a higher conscious of being with enlightenment. Traci Harding is an amazing writer with style and individuality so therefore I recommend this series for those who fantasize with their great imagination of a well thought of tale utilising histories finest.
Submitted by Samantha
This book was, by and large, a terrible read. Forgiving the obvious lack of writing talent on the part of Harding, the story was preachy and the entire concept of "going back in time and fixing the way people behave with cunning use of martial arts and feminism" demonstrated only that Harding has either never heard of cultural relativity, or is arrogant enough to believe herself the moral endpoint of civilisation.
I really wish this book had turned out better, time travel to ancient Celtic times is a very entertaining notion, and it just didn't get the treatment it deserved. How could it, with a protagonist who always gets her own way and never learns anything?