This is classic Epic Fantasy at its finest. There are forces of pure evil locked away on a separate plane; waiting for the unwary to provide them with a meal. There is magic and mayhem. Dirty politics and personal agendas. Prejudice and jealousy. But there is also love, loyalty and friendship. Nothing is simple and nothing comes easily. This entire story is full to the brim with a host of struggles resulting in outcomes both tragic and triumphant.
Epic Fantasy Series Review by Mulluane
♦ The Story. This tale revolves around three distinct peoples. On top are the self proclaimed "True-Men." This group is comprised of those who have no magical powers but fear and yes, even hate those who do. The next tier are the T'En. They are the mystics with powers that range from healing to killing the fierce predators of the upper plane. But for all their power, they are few in number. As a result they use the True-Men's fear of their powers to hold their hatred at bay. The third tier is the Half-Bloods. They normally have no magic of their own but do possess an affinity for magic that allows a T'En to bond with them to enhance their own power. Because of this ability the Malaunje, as they are called by the T'en, are protected and cherished while at the same time reviled and despised by the True-Men.
But lets dig a bit deeper into this massive scenario. Afterall it is epic fantasy. The True-Men have the types of problems you might expect. There are opportunists jockeying for position within the court. There are religious factions who are always grabbing for more power. And there is a King who is trying to keep his followers loyal through fear and intimidation.
The T'En too have internal problems. They are divided into Sisterhoods and Brotherhoods. Both are operating under an uneasy truce; each faction distrusting and fearing the other. To make things even more difficult, the different Brotherhoods are constantly fighting amongst themselves. Theirs is a world of strength and stature. Defeat the leaders of a weaker Brotherhood and you absorb that brotherhood into your own. Definitely a survival of the fittest scenario.
This is a dark, tragic world where babies are given up at birth if they are either Half-Bloods or T'En; much to the heartbreak of their unfortunate mothers. And to make things even more interesting, anyone, including full blooded True-Men, can give birth to a T'En or Half-Blood child. It is also a blood thirsty world with cutthroat politics, gender bias, racial discrimination, murder, rape, torture and betrayal. But good lurks in the corners just waiting for its chance to right the wrongs and fight against injustice.
♦ What I Liked. It would be easier to explain what I didn't like. But we will get to that later. Being the huge fangirl of true epic fantasy that I am, I loved this series. I have read far too many so called epics lately that to my mind, were not epic fantasy at all. It was a pleasant change to read something that was truly epic in every sense of the word.
This is, in my opinion, a plot driven story and I enjoyed it as such. The characters were interesting, occasionally fascinating, but I never bonded with any of them. Didn't have time. This story raced along at full speed. Book one alone covered about 20-30 years. Even so there were a few who stood out and those were also the ones who developed the most. At no time could you describe this saga as "static." Everything moved, changed, evolved or devolved. Paths to success failed at the last second. Betrayals suffered the same fate. Or.... either might succeed but with a twist that nobody could have predicted. I'll hang my head and admit that I caught myself using a profanity or twelve when events unexpectedly turned on their heads. However if a scheme actually worked, I wasn't expecting that either so those left me speechless.
♦ What I didn't like. I had a few problems. Annoyances really. I go into depth on those in the individual reviews but to recap I had to overcome a language barrier and a learning curve in book one and I vehemently disliked the ending of book three. Enough to cost it a star even though the book itself was excellent. We all have our pet peeves and I'm afraid the ending of book three nailed one of mine.
This is one of those cases where, even though books 1 and 3 got 4 stars, I am giving the series as a whole a 5 star rating. The sum of the total is more than its individual parts. This really is an excellent epic fantasy.
♦ Conclusion. There is a challenge in reading true epic fantasy. You have to keep on your toes and really pay attention to the details. Epic fantasy tends to be multilayered, complicated, huge in scope with a massive amount of vital players and important storylines. When it is done well -- as this was -- it is a priceless experience. An exceptional epic fantasy should make you think, question and ponder your own views, prejudices and vices. It should make you shudder in horror and feel fortunate not to live in such a place under such harsh circumstances. It doesn't need to be character-driven if what you feel is sympathy for an entire race or races; combined with the hope that things will improve for the good guys and get worse for the bad.
This, for me, was a true Epic Fantasy. Highly recommended!
Besieged #1 ~ Exile #2 ~ Sanctuary #3
|Author: Rowena Cory Daniells
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Content: Magical Gifts, Parallel World, Politics, Conflict
Series: The Outcast Chronicles
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review
|Cover Art: Clint Langley |
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More Great Epic Fantasy Series
Epic Fantasy Series Summary of The Outcast Chronicles by Rowena Cory Daniells - Reviewed by Mulluane - on May 29, 2014 - Rating: of 5 Stars