in this wonderful sequel to her magnifcent epic fantasy novel Banewreaker, the battle for Urulat comes to its epic conclusion (maybe). it is beatifully written with a very thought provoking plot and an interesting array of characters. what more can i say? well, what did the skeptics say?
fortunately, most of the romantic fantasy fans and Tolkien purists didn't bother to read (or at least review) this one but still its ratings fall. here are the various complaints against the series and my responses:
ITS NOT LIKE KUSHIEL!
i have yet to read Kushiel, BUT THIS IS A GREAT BOOK. however, if you don't like epic fantasy, you probably won't like it.
IT RIPS OFF TOLKIEN
first of all, WHO CARES! all fantasy books take some inspiration from Tolkien. besides, Tolkien took all that stuff about the beautiful immortal elves(rather than Santa's little helpers), the dwarves that live under the earth, the cursed ring, the sword that was reforged, right out of the Poetic Edda (also a great book). plus, Carey didn't JUST rip off Tolkien, the Marasoumie were right out of Robert Jordan, the whole theme of good seen as evil is very Miltonian, the inevitability of fate theme is omnipresent in Homer, Beowulf, and the Edda, although it seems odd to our modern taste, Satoris' refusal to kill Cerelinde bears striking similarity to Odin's refusal to slay Fenrir, the "water of life" that makes thing young is right of of Norse mythology, the Helm of Shadows sounds like Fafnir's Helm of Terror in the very lays that inspired Tolkien, and the "gifts" of Haomane and Satoris sound like the gifts of Hoenir and Lothur(who is probably Loki, the sort-of-evil god) in the Edda.
I CAN'T SYMPATHIZE WITH ANY OF THE CHARACTERS
if you can't sympathize with anyone who has faults, then you must live a very sheltered life. the only characters who aren't conflicted, and who can't see their own faults, are Haomane's allies. thats the point, they are blindly pursuing their goal towards "paradise" without thinking of the repercussions (sound like our president?). IF YOU NEED CHARACTERS DEFINED IN BLACK AND WHITE THEN DONT READ THIS BOOK!
THE CHARACTERS ACT STUPID
yes, HAOMANE'S ALLIES are blind, thats the theme. Haomane is obssessed with creating his "perfect world" free of emotion, and the humans have been taught that Satoris is the root of all evil. as for the other gods, they're just scared of Haomane. Satoris' allies, on the other hand, know that Satoris is going to die eventually, but they want to keep his gift in the world as long as they can, and die with honor. in our culture that may seem a little dellusional, and perhaps it is, but the ancient epics tell us that in ancient, violent times people believed that destiny was inescapable, and strived for an honorable death rather than a peaceful one. the Were just want peace. the dwarves they probably realize that Haomane is going to win, and don't want to be on his bad side.
ALL THAT STUFF ABOUT THE GIFTS AND THE DRAGONS JUST DOESN'T WORK
its suppsed to be magical, not scientific. IT ISN'T TOTALLY LITERAL! the Fjel can think, but so can dogs or monkeys. they can speak, learn, hunt, and obey, but they don't have the kind of complex analytical or creative abilities of humans. furthermore, Satoris' gift is PASSION not the ability to procreate. Carey uses dragons in Beowulf-like way, as an embodiement of fate. they are omniscient, and can see into the future, but they do not try to change fate, only to carry it out.
I CAN'T REMEMBER ALL THESE CHARACTERS
you see what I mean about the Gift of Thought?
SPOILER WARNING: IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING THEN
all the characters i like die:(that junk was to keep people who don't want to knoe the ending from reading the title when they skim over this, by the way) yet again, thats the theme. from the end of Banewreaker, its pretty evident this isn't going to be a happy ending. however, Carey likes to dangle a sliver of hope before your eyes, well more than a sliver until the end, and take it away, and maybe you think Satoris will win because thats what you want to think. that proves that you DO care about the characters, and thats why Carey is a great storyteller. you cant believe how stupid everyone is, and you cant hate them for it, but you love them too (except Malthus). she WANTS you to think "how could you do that Lilias" and "how could you do that Cerelide" and why didn't you just KILL HER. if you like happy endings then this is not the book for you. still, it does leave you with a glimmer of hope.