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The Diviner Mass Market Paperback – Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 437 pages
  • Publisher: Daw Books; Reissue edition (Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756407419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756407414
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patrick St-Denis, editor of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist on 11 Aug 2012
Format: Hardcover
After a two-book stint in paranormal romance/urban fantasy, I was delighted to learn that Melanie Rawn would return to fantasy with her next project. Though both Spellbinder and Fire Raiser were good novels, they featured a different narrative voice and could have been written under a pseudonym.

With The Diviner, the Melanie Rawn which gave us The Dragon Prince trilogy (Dragon Prince, The Star Scroll, Sunrunner's Fire), The Dragon Star trilogy (Stronghold, The Dragon Token, Skybowl), and The Exiles (The Ruins of Ambrai and The Mageborn Traitor) is back with what could be her most tightly plotted and adroitly paced novel to date.

The Diviner is a prequel to the 1996 World Fantasy Award finalist The Golden Key (Canada, USA, Europe), which was co-authored by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliot. Be that as it may, having read The Golden Key is no prerequisite to fully enjoy this newest addition in the saga. Although it paves the way for what is to come, The Diviner is a stand-alone work that makes for a satisfying reading experience on its own.

Here's the blurb:

Bestselling author Melanie Rawn's triumphant return to high fantasy.

The only survivor of royal treachery that eliminates his entire family, Azzad al-Ma'aliq flees to the desert and dedicates himself to vengeance. With the help of the Shagara, a nomadic tribe of powerful magicians, he begins to take his revenge-but at a terrible cost to himself.

The Middle Eastern and Mediterranean settings were a welcome change from the usual medieval European environment so predominant in fantasy novels. The Tza'ab Rih desert and its people come alive through Rawn's vivid narrative. Discovering more about the mysterious Shagara was an added bonus.
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By scifi friend on 21 May 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This explains how the magic started. Read it after you've read the series and it makes a lot of sense of the later books. Cleverly introduced ideas.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Full of hints and promises of a return to form for Melanie 30 Jan 2012
By Bob Milne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In a sense, The Diviner is really two books, with a rather abrupt change of both plot and pace about halfway through, as Azzad al-Ma'aliq gives way to his son, Alessid. The problem is that the son cannot hold a candle to his father, either in personality or deeds. Azzad is a wonderful character, a man who rises above his flaws to become more than just means of retribution. He develops as he matures, exposing hidden facets of his personality that make him more endearing as the story progresses. I loved him as a hero, as a father, as a husband, and as a warrior. He is, without a doubt, one of Melanie's strongest characters. It's just a shame the book couldn't remain focussed on him.

Alessid, by contrast, is entirely unlikable from the start, and what limited development he displays is, unfortunately, in the wrong direction. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at first, understanding where he's come from and what kind of legacy he's inherited, but he was a disappointment. I neither liked nor respected him, and every time he disparaged his father's memory (which is far too often), he simply reminded me of the gulf between the two.

In all fairness, Azzad's half of the novel was the far more interesting story, briskly paced, and interspersed with a few moments of reflection. I cared about what was happening, and I found myself anxiously turning pages, desperate to know what would happen next. Alessid's half of the novel was far less interesting, sluggishly paced, and bogged down with far too many marriages, births, and alliances. Instead of being anxious to find out what happens next, I found myself desperately flipping through pages, hoping to pick up a thread of story that would pull me back in.

It's a shame Melanie couldn't maintain the magic of the first half, because there's a lot about the story to like. If she could have just given us more of the Sheyqa Nizzira, the truly chilling, scene-chewing villainess behind Azzad's flight into the desert, maybe there would have been no need to dwell on Alessid. Unfortunately, once we get beyond the bloodbath that begins the novel, she ceases to be anything other than a name, a title, a character who exists off-the-page as a focal point for vengeance. She had such promise - I would have really loved to explore her more.

Characters and plotting aside, the Middle East flavouring is a nice change of pace from the typical European fantasy setting, and I loved exploring the origins of the magic that made The Golden Key so enthralling. There were some really nice stylistic touches here, and the quality of the writing itself is full of hints and promises of a return to form for Melanie. I'd like to think this was just a contractual obligation she forced herself through, to give her the freedom to do something new.

Time will tell, but here's hoping her new trilogy follows through on that promise of a return to form, and once again demonstrates the love for her material that seemed lacking here.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Original but Soulless 6 Feb 2012
By Brandon Zarzyczny - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book, and at times I did, but it was ultimately extremely flawed. To me, it seems like the author created an outline of everything she wanted to happen in this prequel story, and then wrote around the outline to fill it out. Throughout the book thousands of people are killed, including several main characters. However, not once did I feel any emotion at their deaths other than annoyance. The writing is relatively well done within the chapters, but when 20 years can pass between 1 chapter, it completely takes you out of the story. It reads almost like a history book, with certain important events described fully from the viewpoint of one of the important historical figures. The author loved introducing one young character from each new generation, letting you learn who he is and possibly liking him, then jumping multiple years (denoted by a 1 to 2 paragraph summary), seeing what happened to him, then killing him off. It was just so frustrating to read, and ultimately it took me a much longer time to read than a book usually does. The Diviner just left me frustrated and annoyed after reading it, the book was an interesting read, but it lacked the soul and good book needs.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nice style, but not engaging 16 Jun 2013
By Evil Overlord - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I encountered Melanie Rawn via her debut novel, Dragon Prince, and was thrilled to find her bringing fantasy romance to life as few but Mary Stewart and M.K. Wren have managed to do. I devoured that thick book, the rest of that trilogy, and the successor Dragon Star trilogy. I picked up the first two books of the Exiles trilogy as soon as they came out, and have been waiting in frustration for The Captal's Tower ever since (over 15 years now, in case you think I'm impatient).

I picked up her collaboration The Golden Key (with Kate Elliott and Jennifer Roberson), but didn't think much of it. Still, when I saw this book in a discount store, I picked it up, thinking "Hey, she hasn't written the book I'm waiting for, but she's still writing. Let's see what there is."

The Diviner is a solo-author prequel to The Golden Key. It's placed in a faux Middle-Eastern setting that's alternately nicely and awkwardly handled. The story purports to describe cultures with powerful females, but sees them through the eyes of three generations of men, who also seem to do pretty well for themselves.

Rawn remains a good stylist, and the three viewpoint characters are nicely distinct. At the same time, the book is choppy and in some places cursory. Dramatic actions come and go, and while I give Rawn credit for focusing more on people than events, these are the people leading or causing the events, and it sometimes feels like they're not paying attention. The book would also have benefited greatly from a map. There are so many tribes, names, and places mentioned that it's hard to keep track of, especially since I, at least, couldn't line them up with real places. A genealogical chart would have helped too - I also had trouble remembering who was related to whom, and eventually gave up.

Finally, near the every end of the book, we get to the set up for The Golden Key. This part was genuinely interesting, but it felt like the other 300 pages were a vastly overextended lead in. I give Ms. Rawn credit for trying to make the story stand on its own, and be more than just a prequel. For me, it didn't really work. The other material just wasn't interesting enough. The very end of the story provides a decent wrapup that strengthens this as a standalone novel, but it's not sufficient. I strongly recommend reading The Golden Key in advance if you want to get full value from The Diviner.

Overall, nicely written, but not tremendously engaging. If you loved The Golden Key, you'll want to read this. Otherwise, this is interesting but not really recommended.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The History of the Golden Key 6 Jan 2012
By Rich Stoehr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
No bones about it - 'The Diviner' was a long time coming - 15 years and change for fans of 'The Golden Key' to wait to get more of the story. The good news for those fans is, it was worth the wait.

As a prequel, 'The Diviner' doesn't rely on the events of 'The Golden Key' much. It reads very much like a well-written history, even interspersed with excerpts of biographies of the main characters, slightly dry in places but with enough intrigue to keep it interesting all the way through. And the promise of magic, bound to ink and metalwork, is the foundation for it all.

The story spans generations, focusing first on Azzad, whose entire bloodline is wiped out at the whim of a jealous ruler. His promise of vengeance requires patience, persistence and risk. He is succeeded by Alessid, who sees Azzad as a fool and ruthlessly focuses his life on completing what Azzad started, sacrificing many to his cause. Finally there is Qamar, years distant from Azzad but similar in spirit, who sees the cycle of death and vengeance come around again and seeks to end it in a new way - by creating a new type of magic.

On the surface, 'The Diviner' is the story of wars and vendettas and the web of people caught up in their wake. But really, it's the story of the evolution of magic and the dedication to bring new life to old ways, the discovery of the union of science and craft and blood to create power.

For those who read 'The Golden Key,' the end of 'The Diviner' is where it really comes into its own, as we start to hear familiar names like Grijalva and Zario, and see the quickenings of the magic and art that form the backbone of 'The Golden Key.' For those who haven't read the older book, there may seem like there's a lot more story to be told here - and believe me, there is.

'The Diviner' can be read on its own, without having read 'The Golden Key' first, but it will likely leave you wanting more. If so, 'The Golden Key' is highly recommended to continue the story. For those of us who have read it already, 'The Diviner' fills in a lot of mysteries around the original, tells an epic story, and represents a satisfying return to form for a favorite writer of fantasy.

Fifteen years, and still worth the wait. Well done.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
highly entertaining story 2 Jan 2012
By erin alter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i am puzzled by the negative reviews here. the names in this story are not impossible to keep straight, unless you are only able to remember "typical american english names". these have more of a middle eastern feel, and i had no difficulty.

the story is complex, but that is what rawn is known for. this is essentially three stories in one. i had not read The Golden Key previously, and had no difficulty following the story. it is satisfiying in and of itself; no cliff hanger ending. it does seem to allude to The Golden Key, and i am now eager to read that, once it comes out on kindle.

there is humor, drama, tragedy, magic, love, sacrifice, and grand hubris. the characters are well developed, with flaws and strengths. the story is highly entertaining. i definitely recommend this!
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