Top positive review
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Solid Effort From UK Fantasist
on 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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