Saturday, October 27, 2007

Skewed Throne - Book Review

I just finished reading Joshua Palmatier's debut novel, the third of which, the Vacant Throne, comes out in January.

Varis, the main character, is a street urchin, mistrustful, wary and fast. As the novel progresses, she develops another skill, assassination. But unlike other books where theft and killing are the protagonists occupation, she takes no pleasure in her skill. (I'm thinking here specifically of Jimmy the Hand, who didn't like being a thief but took great pride in being a great thief.)

At first I thought it strange that we see so much emotion from her. Whenever she kills someone in self-defense she breaks down and sobs. Later on though, I realized what the author was doing. Normally, by the end of the book, with what she'd turned into, I would have found my sympathy waning, might have put the book down being no longer able to empathize with the main character (if I don't care what happens to the main character, why keep reading? For this reason I was never able to finish book one of Stephen Donaldson's White Gold Wielder series, from about page 60 I wanted him to fail the quest. Since logic dictated that he wouldn't I had no desire to read on. I had no sympathy for the character's plight and only disgust for his choices). The same might have held true for Varis except for that gleam of humanity that her life as an assassin can't diminish. She sobs. She has a conscience and continually sees the faces of the people she has killed.

Now that's not to say that a conscienceless protagonist isn't fun at times. I love the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay. But the direction of those books is entirely different. They're designed to show, in a darkly humourous way, what humanity is capable of. You laugh as you read the books and feel slightly chilled at the end. The horror though, comes from the thought of meeting someone in real life like that, where the situation would be anything but funny.

But back to Varis. The end of the book works. You look over the course of her life and see both how she ends up there and how that seems right for her. A masterful story with amazing character development.

You can check out Joshua's website here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lady of Light and Shadows

I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of C.L. Wilson's conclusion to Lord of the Fading Lands. I'm just under half way through, but it's as well written as the first book. The author does a remarkable job of recapping what occured in the previous novel without boring you with needless repetitions. In fact, her writing is so good that I find an hour's passed and I barely noticed, I was so caught up in the story. This novel does read more like a romance than Lord, but it's worth the few love scenes to find out what will happen between Ellie and Rain. C.L. Wilson also has an excellent grasp of character and what motivates people. Each character's reactions to the events of the first book as well as their personal loves, hates and wishes, makes this book a lot of fun to read.

And the cover is simply gorgeous.

Lord of the Fading Lands - Book Review

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted. I've moved, I've cut my hair short and a review I wrote has been quoted in the author's book! Here's the full review, though only the last line made the novel.

Lord of the Fading Lands
By: C. L. Wilson
If you enjoy the blend of romance and fantasy employed by LUNA books, then you will love this new book by Dorchester Publishing: Lord of the Fading Lands.
C.L. Wilson’s city of Celieria is impeccably detailed and populated with an interesting and yet wholly realistic cast of characters.
The Fey Truthspeaker is coming for her annual visit, and this year the Feyreisen, King of the Fey, is accompanying her. He is searching for the woman whom their oracle showed could save the dying tairen, magical winged cats, whose fates are intertwined with those of his people.
Little does he realize that this woman is his shei’tani, his soul-mate, and that she is already unwillingly betrothed to another. As if that weren’t enough, the Eld, mages and ancient enemy of the Fey, are plotting once more.
This debut will draw you into a magical weave of spirit and air that won’t release you until the last word is read.

If you want to see the rest of the reviews, check out the World's Biggest Bookstore's Sci-Fi Fan Letter here.