Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Bristling Wood: Dawnspell: Deverry Act One: Book 3 (Review)

Mulluane | 2:30 PM | 6 Comments so far
The Bristling Wood by Katharine Kerr

By Katharine Kerr

Genre: Sword & Sorcery, 16+
ISBN: 0553285815
Publisher: Spectra (April 1, 1990)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Source: Personal Copy

Over a thousand years ago the People of Deverry were driven from their splendid kingdom by their enemy, the Hordes, and forced to find sanctuary in the remote forests in the east of their lands where they eventually settled. Succeeding generations remembered these terrible events as the Burning - and they never forgot the cities, towns and marvels of the far, far west.

Dawnspell, the third compelling volume in Katharine Kerr's epic Deverry series, continues the bold saga of Nevyn, Rhodry and Jill as they battle with the evil forces threatening the world of Deverry in the decades that follow the Burning. Rooted in celtic mythology, this dazzling novel offers a vision of an extraordinary universe of magicians, kings, elves and prophets, of a world where love is triumphant - even over death

It is easy to see why this is such an enduring and much loved series. It just keeps getting better the more you read it. The story tightens up in this third installment of act one. This is due in large part to the reduction in past incarnations of the main characters. This go round only two are covered. There is the present reincarnation featuring Jill and Rhodry and a previous incarnation that takes place when the Kingdom of Deverry - as Jill and Rhodry know it - is being formed. By default, with the focus tightened, the character development is also more focused, making this my favorite book so far.

Of course, it helps that by now I am used to Katharine Kerr's writing style. I have seen it described as Celtic storytelling; meaning the story is told in segments according to importance to the main storyline. This explains the jumps in timeline and the seemingly random bits of back-story. Only they are not random; each jump has some bearing on the present events and is inserted into the book in order of relevance, even though you might not pick up on the exact relevance at the time. Once you get used to this, you learn to file away certain events in the old brain filing cabinet, because trust me, at some point later you will have an "Ah ha!" moment. It is actually alot of fun, kind of like putting a puzzle together without seeing the picture on the box first.

There is another fun component to the whole reincarnation factor. You never know who is going to show up in what role, although you can be sure that at some point in the story they will all cross paths. However, once they do, will they be the best of friends or deadly enemies? It makes the whole saga a joy to experience.

So is there anything I do not like about this book? Well, not really. It has all of the elements I love most about High or Sword and Sorcery Fantasy. It has elves, dwarves, elementals, tons of magic, a kick butt strong female lead, back-stabbing politics, high adventure, true love, more twists then a slinky, interfering gods and forces of evil. In this tale, Jill is truly coming into her own, playing both heroine and victim to perfection. Nevyn remains a fascinating character as he begins to show just how far he will go to save his beloved kingdom and Rhodry, both as himself and as his past incarnation, Maddyn, manages to surprise me with his depth of character. Equally as interesting is Perryn, though we are not sure exactly what he is. He plays a complicated role as both a truly evil individual and a purely innocent one. The balancing act that Katharine Kerr plays with this character is simply amazing. You hate him with a passion only to turn right around and feel sorry for the poor guy. By the time it is all said and done, you are not sure what to think.

Content is not as harsh as in book two. There is rape of a sort, cannot elaborate without giving away an important plot detail. There are love scenes but nothing terribly graphic. There is slavery and torture, which is never pretty but again, most of the details are left to your imagination. And, of course, it is a violent world at times but I do not think I have ever read a fantasy that did not contain violence. As with most good fantasies though, all of the bad elements are balanced by the good. Love, trust, and loyalty in the face of impossible odds, and in this case, lasting 100s of years, more then make up for the harsher elements.

There is one more book in Act 1 and I am off to savor it now. It will be interesting to see how Katharine Kerr wraps things up. (It has been so long since I read these I honestly do not remember.) Once this Act is concluded, the story is continued in two more acts consisting of four books each, followed by an epilogue, which has not been written yet. All of this just insures that those of us who love the world of Deverry will have plenty to enjoy for years to come.

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Shelfari Rating 4/5

Librarything Rating 3.81/5

Amazon Rating 4+ out of 5 stars
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