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| Source: Author (Honest Review Requested)
| Author: Rowena Cory Daniells
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| Content: Magical Gifts, Parallel World, Politics
| ISBN-10: 1781080119
| ISBN-13: 9781781080115
| Publisher: Solaris (June 26, 2012)
| Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
| Cover Artist: Clint Langley
| Rating: 4/5 Stars
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Prejudice, betrayal, jealousy, ambition and endless scheming fill all 672 pages of this truly epic fantasy. If you love a complicated multi-tiered magic system, a fully realized secondary world, secrets, personal agendas, and a multitude of racial issues, this story has all that and so much more.
Epic Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane
♦ The Story. Oh my. How do I describe this tale? There is so much of it it defies a simple explanation. But for you dear reader, I'll give it a shot.
Lets start with the basic makeup of this world. At the core there are three main races. The mystics, the non gifted (humans with no mystical powers) and the half-bloods.
The mystics consist of sisterhoods and brotherhoods, both laboring under an uneasy truce. To make things even more interesting, the brotherhoods are not only at odds with the sisterhoods. They are feuding with each other. The non-gifted have the usual divisions of class, religion, social status, wealth and power. In the background there is also a group of foreign scholars but they play a distant role at best. Oh, and if that isn't enough, there is a parallel plane filled with power hungry monsters.
With me so far? Well hold on, it gets even better. Almost every division hates, fears or distrusts the others. The end result is a tale full to the brim with tons of conflict. The majority motivated by political, religious, cultural, gender biased, racial and/or personal ambitions. Add to the mix a touch of greed, a bit of revenge, a few doses of misguided loyalty, then stir in some lies and you have a recipe for disaster.
♦ What I Liked. I enjoyed the complexity. The political, religious, gender and racial divisions intrigued me. The backstabbing, conniving, and secret agendas all kept me glued to the pages. The pace was fast, tense and flowed without effort. It was like being a fly on the wall watching the events as they unfold.
Another thing I loved were the twists and backflips. It was like watching a bunch of gymnasts -- on steroids. Loyalties flip, then flip again. The balance of power shifts constantly. Fortunes rise and fall. Sometimes things change for the better and other times for the worse, but almost always in ways you didn't see coming.
There is no question, this is true epic fantasy.
♦ What I didn't like. There was, for me, a huge learning curve. The severity is going to depend (I think) on whether you've read Rowena Cory Daniells' earlier T'En trilogy, Fall of Fair Isle. It takes place in the same world but is set many years later. If so, you are already familiar with some of the main structure. Unfortunately I haven't read that series so I had to learn everything from scratch.
First you have the various levels within each society. The brotherhoods, sisterhoods, political and religious factions each have their own circles and hierarchies. Add in the various cultural, social and magical components and you end up with alot to learn.
However, the main problem for me lay with the terms used by each race. For example, the non-gifted call themselves True-Men but the Mystics call them Mieren. The True-Men call the half-bloods either half-bloods or Wyrds. But, the mystic race calls them Malaunje. The mystics themselves are T'En but are also referred to as Wyrds, depending on who is doing the talking. Finally, the half-bloods use all of the various terms. Then you have rare births of individuals with special powers. There are completely different names for each of those those. Confused yet? I was.
I struggled the most with the different races all having individual names for each other. For awhile there I kept getting pulled out of the story while I figured out which race the text was referring to. Granted the names Mieren and Malaunje look completely different in the context of this review. However when thrown at you in a fast paced action story, the difference isn't so obvious. To make matters worse, I am still not sure I understand the full meaning of every term used. Especially the ones that indicate an individual has some kind of special power.
In my opinion this book needs a glossary but perseverance works almost as well :)
♦ My Thoughts. This is not a book to read before bedtime. Especially if you have trouble shutting off your mind as I do. It is also not a book you need to read if you have alot of distractions going on around you. Trust me, it will demand your full attention. The bathtub with a "Do not disturb" sign on the door might work. Just don't forget to get out before the water cools and you catch pneumonia because you have forgotten where you are. Oh and a treadmill would be perfect! Unfortunately you'll likely need new soles on your shoes afterwards. Especially if you run at the same pace as this saga.
There is alot of violence, rape, hate crimes, torture, tragedy and hardship. And when I say alot, I mean 20-30 years worth packed into one book. But it isn't all bad. There are some good folks too. Individuals who wish to better their world, or atleast their race's place within it. There is even a bit of romance amongst the chaos.
♦ Conclusion. I'm really liking this series so far. I am also seriously impressed. Rowena Cory Daniells covered a full generation of schemes, plots and power struggles. Build an entire fully realized world. Plus did all this without me once skimming back through chapters for reminders of what is going on. It is nothing short of amazing. The only thing that gets sacrificed along the way is intimacy with the characters. There are characters you will develop some feelings for but on the whole this is definitely a plot-driven story.
If you love dark, harsh, complicated worlds. Plenty of politics, ambition and greed. Lots of backstabbing, vow breaking, betrayal and strife, this book sure fits the bill.
Series Summary ~ Book Two ~ Book Three
(3 customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: Besieged (The Outcast Chronicles)|
Buy Book: Books-A-Million ~ AbeBooks
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Epic Fantasy Review of Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells - Reviewed by Mulluane - on May 14, 2014 - Rating: of 5 Stars