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4.3 out of 5 stars11
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2007
Firstly, thanks to the folk at Transworld for sending me this one! I'd been told it was good by quite a few people...

In the veins of Rol Cortishane lies the blood of the Elder race. Angels some say they are, exiled for sins none now remember. Other say they are demons...Either way, his folk are mistrusted by most they meet, and he is driven from his home.

Fleeing to one of his race's ancient strongholds, he meets Psellos, the man who will guide and train him in the art of murder, the one man with knowledge of Rol's true parents. A knowledge that Psellos will use to exert power over Rol. And destroy everything Rol holds dear.

Defying Psellos. he flees to the high seas...

I felt that some parts of the set-up had great potential to turn into a highly cliched typical fantasy--a boy, with no knowledge of his parents, highly gifted, etc--but Paul Kearney skillfully avoided the possible pitfalls. His characters, most neither good or bad (or if they are bad, they are for a very good reason) were certainly original.

Rol, particularly, the boy (later man) fleeing to an ancient stronghold of his race, to learn of his ancestry, could have been so uninteresting and typical. But he was not. He's a mixed bag, good and bad within him, and you're never sure which way he'll turn. Eventually, and much more satisfyingly, he just accepts the dueling nature within him and goes on to lead his life.

His blood, so we discover, is more pure than any others of his race descended from the Elders...he could even be one...which, of course, is impossible...

With Rowen, the female assassin, also an Elder descendant, Rol falls in love. It was interesting to see the inevitable love grow (and then end) between them, but Kearney did it in a way that would leave many surprises, and much more to add to the tale.

Later, with Rol on the high seas, captaining his own ship, it was strange to see his powers developing, particularly in battle. It's done in a refreshing way, but I still felt it made Rol too powerful. With such strength I could not see him having any difficulty in any kind of battle, be it magical or not.

The Mark of Ran ended well though--it's relatively self-contained for a book that's the first in a series. It was a fun and unusually good story, with characters that develop as the book moves on. There were a few flaws, but I look forward to what Paul Kearney makes of Book 2. Before reading The Mark of Ran, though, I would advise that you not look at the back cover blurb. It reveals half the story! 7 and a half out of 10.

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VINE VOICEon 11 June 2007
I shamelessly picked up this book in my local Waterstones because the cover shouted out at me! I was very interested in seeing how a maritime ship based fantasy novel would go and I am really pleased I bought it!

A slow start soon speeds up gear into a real saltwater romp with plenty of action and some very interesting characters.

This is a fantastic read and the world that Paul Kearney has created is incredibly detailed with great depth and interest and I loved referring back to the map at the front of the book. I loved this book so much, I have ordered book two from Amazon even before I finished this one!
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on 23 April 2011
good book, paced well, descriptive but no info dumps, great characters and dark enough to drag it away from other contemporary authors. i've read both books in this seris and after a long wait i'm pleased to say the third and final chapter should be out by autumn 2012. something just a little differant.
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on 17 July 2008
The book was ok, but nothing noticeable among fantasy books these days; there wasn't nearly as much based on a ship as I'd been expecting, the training half of the book really didn't much for me at all, and I've not felt any desire to find out what happens in book 2 at all. I didn't hate this at all and clearly some people loved it, I'm just not entirely sure why...
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on 18 June 2014
I could only be, again, happy with what I got for my money!

I really hope Paul Kearney will become a David Gemmell so he can earn a living out of writing fantasy...

He is absolutely fantastic at the way he presents things!

Great book, enjoyable hours I had going through the story.
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on 29 January 2006
I will not bore you with a full recap of the plot. So here are just my first impressions when reading it...
The beginning of this book feels like yet another "boy has to come to terms with his great destiny ..". But it moves away from that pretty darn quick.
The main characters of this one feel ... real. These are not hero/villan prototypes, the heroes have problems - real problems - the villans have reasons for what they do. So you can almost) understand the reasoning (however sick) for their actions.
This is great fantasy. If you like writers like Feist, Barclay, George R.R. Martin, then this is for you.
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on 13 February 2008
Why this book hasn't received more acclaim is beyond me. It surpasses 90% of the other fantasy out at the moment. First book since Joe Abercrombie thats kept me reading into the early hours. A sublime effort and highly recommended.
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on 17 October 2005
The first thing I will say is that I really enjoyed this book, I read it fast (as I do when I love a book) and am looking forward to the next installment.
What I enjoyed was the writing style..the book flows and never stagnates. I love the ships and the descriptions of life and war at sea. I love the idea of fantasy world with pirates. I thought Psellos was a great character and I loved the fact that the main characters developed away from the cliched types they appeared in the first half of the book. This book is, in fact, like two seperate books as the second half is so different than the first half.
What I did not like so much was a few rather incongrous uses of magic. The start of the book has an episode that almost put me off. The fact that the Ogre character barely turns many heads, yet no one has seen anything like him. I also did not like the way the white rage on Rol is described - it makes him too god like.
Overall, the book is a grat read though. During the first half I really thought that Rol and Rowen were becoming terrible cliched fantasy characters. Unknown parantage, mysterious powers etc etc. Luckily the book develops far more in the second half. The last few chapters are absolutely excellent and bring something new ot the genre.
Highly recommended.
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on 11 November 2005
I've read a lot of science fiction over the years but had never read anything by Kearney. Certain types of books made me a bit jaded about the whole genre; particularly Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. You wait 2 years for a negligible product that reads like a Hollywood hack wrote it on a coffee fuelled come-down. I found The Mark of Ran, on the other hand, very appealling and with an economy of style that any author (in any genre) would be proud of. The characters and plot development are consistent and well thought out- Rol seems very, well, normal and it's when confronted with difficult situations that the authors meticulous work in the early part of the book pay off. The only problem I had was the ending, in that so much happened in so few pages. However, the author wasn't lacking and built up to it well.I read this book in the library and went out to buy it afterwards; it's wedged between my Frank Herbert and Darrell Schweitzer books.I only keep the best of what I read and this book definitely deserves to be there.I only hope that the next installment lives up to this great start.
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on 16 November 2010
i say er not sure as well i cant quite decide weather i liked this ook or didnt. It starts as normal and then after the first few pages it transforms into a twilight book. Also the sailing refrences were many and pontless in my view. i quickly got boared by the sailing refrences and would have much rather just had simple words. If you like your books like your nights out, wild and weired then you will enjoy this if not then keep looking.
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