January 10th, 2010, 02:41 PM #1
Liane Merciel - The Novels of Ithelas
After finishing this debut novel (alternate world, epic fantasy), I've posted a review. Let me first confess that I like reading alternate world, epic fantasy (probably my favorite). This is an author I will follow and pick up future works from. From the blog:
The River King's Road: A Novel of Ithelas
by Liane Merciel
Gallery Books, 2010
Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster
Earlier today, I finished the ARC of The River Kings’ Road: A Novel of Ithelas, by Liane Merciel. This is an alternate world, epic fantasy fiction, debut novel. I happen to like alternate world, epic fantasy fiction a great deal. There is a lot of alternate world, epic fantasy fiction out there and some of it has been bland or poor.
This was neither. Merciel has a work that is reminiscent of Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy, minus the super-powered artifacts and characters. The scope of this debut is regional in nature, but does seem to have implications and foreshadowing of a much wider conflict. As such, the cast of characters was specific to this tale and not as large as Weeks’ overall cast, but this too may change as the scope of the conflict expands. Merciel uses multiple POVs from compelling characters spanning the entire spectrum of good, evil and inner-conflict personalities.
One of Merciel’s POV characters leaves the reader with a cliff hanger. It is the dynamic involved in this character’s absence that will have the series expanding in scope later on, I expect.
Merciel’s characters are compelling and her tale grips the reader. I found this to be a highly enjoyable read.
Verdict: Highly recommended
January 10th, 2010, 02:59 PM #2
Interesting... will be looking forward to more opinions, there aren't many from what I can see, to see the overall reaction to the novel. Suciul seem to think that this wasn't good, and yet you highly recommend it. There's no happy-medium here is there? Hehe.
I saw a forum where Merciel apparently is a member of, and she doesn't seem to be that confident in her work, as you can read from her reaction to suciul's comment in goodreads:
Guys stop trying to cheer me up. I appreciate it but srsly, no. That reviewer is a very nice person who reads a whole lot of fantasy and is pretty good at assessing the genre. I don't always agree with his opinions (he tends to like stuff I don't find so interesting, and overlooks flaws that drive me nuts) but I honestly do think he's right on this one.
There's just something about the publication process that induces the crazy. I am not sure what it is, but for the past couple of months I've been obsessed with the cliche-tastic awfulness of the stuff I write and absolutely batshit aggravated that I'm incapable of doing better. With time and distance I expect to regain some semblance of sanity, but for the moment I just spend a whole lot of time whining to SVC.
Anyway I really don't want to threadjack so I'll just try to bring it back on topic by noting, once again, that the writing is the fun part and everything that comes afterward sux. So being unpublished is not altogether a bad thing.
January 10th, 2010, 04:36 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
Blurb and cover art:
A thrilling new voice in fantasy makes an unforgettable debut with this “intriguingly twisted tale of treachery and magic” (New York Times bestselling author L. E. Modesitt, Jr.). Liane Merciel’s The River Kings’ Road takes us to a world of bitter enmity between kingdoms, divided loyalties between comrades, and an insidious magic that destroys everything it touches...
The wounded maidservant thrust the knotted blankets at him; instinctively, Brys stepped forward and caught the bundle before it fell. Then he glimpsed what lay inside and nearly dropped it himself. There was a baby in the blankets. A baby with a tear-swollen face red and round as a midsummer plum. A baby he knew, even without seeing the lacquered medallion tucked into the swaddling—a medallion far too heavy, on a chain far too cold for an infant who had not yet seen a year.
A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyris shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road...
Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge... Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies... Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing... and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence.
As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all...
Last edited by Jussi; January 10th, 2010 at 05:21 PM.
January 11th, 2010, 07:51 AM #4
Ms. Merciel, should she persevere, will have a nice series on her hands when she's done. I'm hopeful she will continue, undeterred, because I believe what she's been able to do thus far could rival the "big boys."
The book had several POVs. One was centered around the search for redemption, a second was centered around the cynical, skeptical, hard-bitten and mercenary view of life, a thid was centered around power hungry betrayal in the form of fratricide, a fourth was centered around love close enough to touch (literally), but forbidden and a fifth was centered around the love of a mother for a helpless infant. All five POVs were well done, the characters strongly realized and the world in which they live, including the events unfolding therein, easily imagined.
The tale avoided the typical quest objects and "super-powered" artifacts and characters. These elements are the 'crutch' or usual suspects endemic to the kind of alternate world, epic fantasy I consider to be less than satisfactory. For me, it takes away from Weeks' work a bit. My only exception would be Erikson/Esslemont who manage to make it work, because the extraordinary is fairly,.....well.....ordinary.
I'll definitely be following Merciel's Ithelas tales.
Last edited by PeterWilliam; January 11th, 2010 at 07:53 AM. Reason: wrong word(s)
January 11th, 2010, 08:14 AM #5
I'll keep an eye on it then, but the book seems a bit expensive at the moment particularly given the mixed reviews so far.
March 1st, 2010, 03:03 PM #6
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
This may be the slowest Summon Author spell of all time, but up until now I didn't have a lot to add to this thread beyond, uh, serving as an object lesson in how everything on the Internet is public. Oops?
However, the publicist over at Gallery Books is running a promotion for book bloggers, so if anyone's got a blog and is interested in taking a look at that in the next couple of days, there's information on that here:
Additionally, I've put up a couple of sample chapters on my website:
The post that Bastard quoted above is indeed an newbie author's overreaction to a first review. I'm deeply chagrined to see it reposted.
All I can say is that it is a unique and bizarre experience to work in isolation on a project for months or years with very little feedback about how it might be received on the public stage... and then it goes out there, and you wait with bated breath to see what real live people will think, and if the very first response is "this sux!!" then there's a temptation to go omg ack my work is terrible I must cast myself into the Pits of Despair so that no one will see my shame.
At least if you're me.
Of course no book is universally beloved and someone will always say "this sux!!" about anything, and that is inevitable and expected and part of the game. But when it's the first response to a first book and there's no way of telling whether the review should be interpreted as "this apple is a terrible apple!" versus "this apple is not a banana!" then it's easy to read, or misread, it as whatever you want, which in my case is generally the worst possible thing. Then we end up with embarrassing posts that leave me blushing two months later on a totally different board.
That's the story with that. Hopefully no feelings were permanently hurt. In the meantime I've gotten enough feedback to be reasonably confident that the apple is a decent apple, although if you prefer bananas you will still probably not be thrilled with it. But at least now you can try it for free!
March 1st, 2010, 05:07 PM #7
Yeah, I saw Liv's review. Admittedly, Liv reads a ton more than I do. However, I really like alternate world, epic fantasy fiction. That having been said, I'd like to think I can distinguish between the decent and the cloned.
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
- Queensland, Australia
- Blog Entries
You seem to be putting yourself down as much as the author did.
As to this book, I read the first chapter and started the second before deciding it was not for me. Nothing was wrong with it per se, it just didn't grab me. I tink i'm getting harsher in my old age.
Good luck with the book though Liane.
Last edited by ChrisW; March 1st, 2010 at 05:12 PM.
March 1st, 2010, 05:40 PM #8
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
's cool, just as long as my delicate nerves don't have to withstand accusations of having raped the Wheel of Time. I'd have to retire to my fainting couch, and then where would we be?
March 1st, 2010, 06:36 PM #9
Someone's done her homework...and that is one of the funniest posts I've seen on SFFW in some time.
No offense, Chris.
March 1st, 2010, 06:57 PM #10
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
- Queensland, Australia
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I'm offended that you think I'd be offended!
March 1st, 2010, 07:58 PM #11
I read the review up at Fantasy Book Critic and had almost decided I would get the book when I read the comment that the next book is a fantasy-horror hybrid. I'm not big on horror. And if that is the case, I'm not sure I will read this first one either.
So my question for you then, Liane, is how pronounced are the horror aspects going to be in the next book? I may give the first one a go anyways.
March 2nd, 2010, 02:26 AM #12
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- Feb 2009
That's a tough question for two reasons.
First, it's impossible to give an objective answer. What I see as a heavy horror influence you might consider negligible, or vice versa. Fantasy and horror shade into each other such that it's hard to say where one ends and the other begins. There's not a clear line at 25%/50%/75%.
I think it's about 50-50, but you might disagree.
Second, the manuscript has been finished and turned in, but it has not been through editorial revisions. Even if I could give you a straight answer about the fantasy/horror balance, that answer will probably be different after my editor gets through with it. She might think that the horror influence should be played up or toned down, and that will change how the final book comes out.
What I can say is that the books are written to be linked but separate, so it's easy to stop after the first book if you think that the second one will not be to your tastes. Each deals with mostly different characters in different parts of the world. While they do have a couple of characters in common, there isn't much connection between them otherwise.
March 4th, 2010, 08:37 PM #13
ChrisW is good humored enough to laugh with it, though. One of the best starts to a thread I've seen.
Given how the first story ended, it is rather easy to see how the second book will slide into the horror realm. After having read the first book, I would say I can probably predict precisely who the main characters for the second book will be.
I look forward to book two and will keep an eye out.
March 4th, 2010, 09:02 PM #14
January 14th, 2011, 09:16 AM #15
Ignore this post. Bookdepository had some misinformation.
As to not waste the post, the sequel will be Heaven's Needle set to be released in April.
Last edited by Bastard; January 14th, 2011 at 09:20 AM.