Most helpful critical review
Standard Fantasy Novel that doesn't showcase Janny Wurts talents as well as it should
on 27 May 2012
I have become quite a fan of Janny Wurts since reading her long-running "The Wars of Light and Shadow" series. Other than that series though, the only other books of hers that I had read were those that formed "The Empire Trilogy" and they were actually a collaborative effort with Raymond E. Feist. Therefore, I decided that I would try another of her books and picked up "Sorcerer's Legacy" which was her debut novel and is quite rare in today's world of fantasy writing in that it is a self contained story so I didn't need to worry about getting bogged down in another multi book epic.
The plot of the novel follows a heroine named Elienne who has recently been widowed when her husband, the Duke of Trathmere was killed in a war. Whilst languishing in the dungeons she is suddenly rescued by a Sorcerer named Ielond who hails from a distant land and is travelling through time trying to locate a wife for his ward, Prince Darion. Ielond reveals to her that Darion is apparently sterile and therefore will be forced to forfeit his throne to his cousin, who is nothing but a lackey for the evil sorcerer Faisix. However as Elienne is in the first few days of pregnancy, Ielond's hope is that her child can be passed off as Darion's should she agree to become a consort. Elienne agrees in the hope that her child will have a better future and so she is drawn into a world full of betrayal, conspiracy and sorcery.
I found that as with most debut novels it does have some flaws and to be honest there isn't anything that a seasoned fantasy fan isn't going to recognise. The plot just felt very workmanlike and average to me, with the regular medieval style setting and obvious good guys and bad guys utilising standard light and dark magic. Don't get me wrong, the book isn't a bad one and I found it to be well structured with a plot that did include some enjoyable elements of suspense and intrigue. However it just felt like it was missing some of the spark that I have seen in her later novels.
In addition, I really appreciated Elienne, she is strongly independent and has heaps of attitude. I couldn't help but smile as I followed her defiantly making her opinions known no matter the cost. The complexities and reasons behind her motivations and actions were all quite believable and really helped to endear her to the reader. Alas, the bad guy in the book, the regent and sorcerer Faisix wasn't as intriguing or believable. For someone who had supposedly been working behind the scenes for years to ensure his lackey could ascend the throne, he just seemed to act in a very ham-fisted way the moment Elieene came on the scene. He really didn't strike me as mastermind who could use his wits to work cleverly behind the scenes to get what he wanted; he actually just came across as a bit of a mindless thug who acted quickly without any real thought or cunning. I think this was probably the biggest let down in the entire novel as I just didn't consider him to be a character who I could really find threatening or believable as an evil mastermind.
Overall, I found "Sorcerer's Legacy" is a pretty standard fantasy novel that should be an enjoyable enough diversion for a rainy afternoon. In all honesty, if you are a fan of Janny Wurts then I would recommend you to try and pick this book up just to see how she started. However for someone new to her works, I would advise you to read some of her later novels first as they are a little bit more refined.