on 12 February 2004
Son of Avonar is the first installment in a new fantasy trilogy from Carol Berg. Even so, the story of the book does come to a conclusion. In this it reminds me of her Rai-kirah series, where each book did resolve the current plot line in a satisfactory manner.
This is the story about Seri, a noblewoman by birth, who has spent ten years living a hard life in exile from court. Now her life is once again about to turn upside down when her path is crossed by a mysterious stranger, who has lost both his memory and the ability to speak. Reluctantly Seri lets herself get involved in helping the stranger figure out who he is and why so many different people are chasing him. As the story unfolds Berg also takes us back a decade to fill us in on the events that caused Seri’s banishment from court.
All in all this is a well written book with a fast paced plot and good characterisation. I was somewhat disappointed by how easy it was in many cases to predict who was going to turn out reliable and who was a traitor, but there were also twists to the plot that genuinely surprised me. It left me eager to read the next installment.
on 4 December 2009
...which is always a pretty good indication that the writer managed to draw me in, hook, line and sinker. Having just 'laboured' through two other books I was thrilled to have this one remind me that reading is meant to be enjoyable.
Seri is a very unconventional Leiran noblewoman, living in exile. Ten years after her life was ripped apart, she has settled down to a simple life style and just wants to be left in peace. All that changes when she comes across a man who seems to be unable to speak, not a bit mad, with no manners to speak of but the deadly abilities of a skilled warrior.
As she unravels the man's story and her role in it, so she is forced to relive some of the horror that caused her to flee the royal court and her brother, the royal champion. In a land where the ability to do magic is regarded as the biggest evil imaginable, once again, she finds herself at the centre of events involving sorcery, some of which more than deserves to be called evil. Whilst the book is told from Seri's point of view, it is as much the story of the half mad man and several other characters that get embroiled in solving his mystery as it is hers. Much is not as it seems.
One reviewer mentions the prolific use of flashbacks and yes, initially, I was worried they would be never-ending and might draw the book down. Flashbacks, when I already know the outcome, can be a greatly off-putting. However, in this case, it was pretty clear that they had a place in the story and were directly affecting the present day. They catch up with past events in big strides and once you're about halfway through the book, you only get odd sentences alluding to past events as you would with most books.
Is the story too predictable? I didn't think so. You get inklings of what might be ahead, and one or two things you can see coming but they only served to heighten my anticipation. If as a reader you do not see anything developing, a story can easily turn into a collection of deus ex machina and that is far worse than having lots of thoughts on what might possibly happen.
Carol Berg always amazes me with her incredibly vivid style and quirky, interesting characters and I would liken her to Robin Hobb in that regard. The book does have a completed story arc but nevertheless, there are enough hints of the bigger picture to make you want to find out what happens next. And that is the only negative thing I can say about this book... with the rest of the series about to be delivered, sleep will be in short supply over the coming days :-)
This is the first book in 'The Bridge of D'Arnath' series and may, at first glance, appeal more to female readers due to a woman being the narrator, however, I would strongly recommend it to either male or female as the story is very gender balanced. The rest of the series is being told from the point of view of varying characters, many, if not more of them men. With magic, action and adventure at the heart of the story, this book definitely comes under good fantasy, not chick-lit or romance.