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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This years best piece of fantasy literature?
A good read. A real epic. Quality literature. Excellent character portrayals. Intelligent plot development. These are just some terms that describe Herniman's first offering to the fantasy world at large. However, I think there is much, much more that can be said: I believe that this book has myth in the making, it has storytelling of the kind that reminds me...
Published on 23 Jun 1999

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst Fantasy book I've ever read
I thought I was really going to enjoy reading this book, but I was in for a huge disappointment. To cut a long story short(!), let's start with the author'style,which I found to be unusually convoluted. The characters are incredibly stiff and completely devoid of anything that makes a fiction persona a credible one (i.e. a sense of humour).And what about the...
Published on 11 Oct 1999


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This years best piece of fantasy literature?, 23 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
A good read. A real epic. Quality literature. Excellent character portrayals. Intelligent plot development. These are just some terms that describe Herniman's first offering to the fantasy world at large. However, I think there is much, much more that can be said: I believe that this book has myth in the making, it has storytelling of the kind that reminds me of the likes of Tolkien, Kurtz, and Lewis. If you prefer to read books where you can: 1. Grow with the characters (none are wooden, or big, hulking, muscle bound types, or scantily clad!) 2. Enter a Secondary World as real as our Primary World, 3. Feel the emotion and the atmosphere of each and every event, then this is a book you will certainly enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of something BIG, 28 April 2004
By 
Mark Timmony (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
From the first I knew this book was going to be good. Marcus Herniman hascreated the type of tale where you are instantly thrown into a fullyrealised world; it has history, depth, character and a weight behind itlike few first novels I’ve read. With a scope that rivals Erikson’sMalazan books and Feist’s Magician, this tale blends both High FantasyAdventure with a real social commentary as conveyed by characters who areboth human and believable, not over-the-top or even under-done.
Siegeopens with terrifying assaults on the border manors of the Empire ofLautun. The dark magics of the Eastern Wizards and the warriors of thebarbarian clans they follow overrun defences and are swiftly camped aroundthe walls of the city of Arrandin. The Lord of Arrandin sends to theCouncil of Magi for assistance as well as to the Emperor, and so beginsthe adventure. In the border city of Arrandin and the costal cities ofEllanguan and Lautun, Herniman weaves his tale through a small group ofcore characters.
Political in-fighting and manoeuvring is enacted in the court plots of theHouses Noble, spilling over to the bitter rivalry between the priesthoodsof the elder gods, the Aeshtar, and those of the newer gods known as theVashtar. With vicious cunning the Emperor Rhydden, himself a follower ofthe Imperial Vashta gods, moves his subjects – allies and opponents alike– with the same ease as if they were pieces on a chess board. With dubiousintent he commends the military Orders of the Aeshtar and the CouncilMagi, of whom he has a deep-seated mistrust, ahead to Arrandin’s aid whilehe gathers his own army.
Kellarn, a scion of the House of Dortrean, becomes entangled in the plotsof the Souther Empire who see Lautun’s preoccupation with the East as anopportunity to advance the ambitions of its own God-King. In Arrandin, theHigh Councillor Rhysana leads a team of magi in search of a key to theancient magical defences of the city. There she discovers that even thelofty heights of the Council of Magi are not proof against treachery andintrigue, from both within and without, and that beneath the surface ofthe Easterner invasion lies a darker, older menace.
Packed to bursting with characters you can both love and hate, Siege ispeppered with humour and introspection, ambition and greed, mystery andphilosophy, all wrapped up in a world that is both new and hauntinglyfamiliar. As is often the case, strong world building skills are requiredthese days to create a fantasy story that can stand out amongst thecrowded shelves. More than one writer has fallen beneath the weight oftheir own creation, but in the delivery of his first published work MarcusHerniman pulls it off and more. There is a fine attention to detail inthis book, but Herniman’s writing is such that its natural rhythm andeloquence handles the complexities of the world that is the Six Kingdomsdeftly, encompassing an ease of style, a voice, that is usually thehallmark of a more experienced writer. His system of magic is structuredand well thought out, both in its use in the story and in the imagery itprovokes in a blend of eastern tradition and western visualisation. Thisbook has substance. You are not going to find simple-minded “abracadabra –if I want it to happen it’s going to” types of magic here. Herniman linksall aspects of his creation together in a seamless tapestry; all thingsare connected to each other in the dance of the gods, and it is to theauthor’s credit that he is able to hold the reader’s interest as they takethe time necessary to familiarise themselves with the characters andworkings of this intriguing world.
If you enjoy magic and adventure, depth and detail that don’t take awayfrom the story, betrayal, passion and greed that vie with love, hope andhonour, then you can’t go past the first book in the Arrandin trilogy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly credible fantasy fiction., 29 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
I'm surprised to see this book receive so many bad reviews. Personally, I'm very hard to please when it comes to fantasy, and it's not often that a novel really grabs my imagination.... and this one certainly did.
There's a review for the second book in this series which sums my feelings up nicely, saying something to the effect that in order to create a credible fantasy world, the author must know ten times more information than he ever discloses to his or her readers.
I agree entirely with that statement. To create a genuinely engaging fantasy world, the author must enable us to believe in it. This can be a monumental task, since the author has to build a whole tapestry of history, religion, magic and politics from the bottom up. An author writing in a contemporary setting already has this backdrop provided, in the form of a world with which his or her readers are already familiar. Such a luxury is not afforded to a fantasy author.
Now, many authors neglect this task, leaving us with the feeling of a shallow and empty world. The impression is given that the characters exist in a bubble, with the author only pausing to flesh out the world when the immediate environment demands it. Other authors, such as Marcus Herniman, make the effort to flesh out their world before they sit down to compose the story. This effort really pays of, helping to create an absorbing novel in which you feel as though you are truly stepping into an alternate reality, and witnessing events that could have actually taken place.
One reviewer criticised the author for the deluge of names early in the book. While I agree that this can be daunting for the reader, it also serves to focus our attention, and to add plausibility and depth to the novel. As I remember, Tolkien included a glossary of names in Lord of the Rings to help the reader keep track of all the characters, so I don't feel that this automatically qualifies as a shortcoming on the author's part!
Another reviewer criticised the characters for being shallow and humourless. Well, I don't know if he was reading the same book as me, but this is honestly not the case! The building blocks of a good fantasy novel, in my opinion, include the things I mentioned earlier.... the world building if you like. But all of that is futile if the author is unable to create engaging characters to which we can relate. Marcus certainly achieves this to my mind. All his characters are distinct, and lack the exaggerated personality traits of the typical fantasy character... flawed hero, evil tyrant etc. He peoples his novel with characters to whom you can relate.... they remind me of people I know, or people I might pass on the street. The humour, when present, is realistic. Sure, we don't have any comic relief characters. We don't get the typical goon that appears to be a requisite of every fantasy or sci-fi TV show these days (watch Star Trek or Xena.... you'll know what I mean). Instead, the humour of these characters is true to life.... often dark humour, trying to make light in a time of crisis.
Magic is another are in which the author scores. If world builing is hard, making the use of magic credible is harder still. Many authors struggle with magic. Raymond Feist springs to mind..... that author is a great storyteller, but when he introduces high magic to his books, they rapidly loose focus. It often seems as though he hasn't really any idea how magic works in his world, and so he tries to compensate for this with the introduction of progressively grander pyrotechnics and surrealism. Marcus Herniman keeps magic grounded, and makes us believe in it. I felt when reading this novel that there was a structure to the use of magic that the author understood. I felt like a spectator watching something that I didn't understand, but which I was confident had it's own internal consistency.
All in all, a great novel.
The author has created a plausible and engaging world, with a true sense of depth and history. It is filled with a plethora of characters, many of whom are merely extras, but serve to flesh out the world around the core players. The central characters are engaging, and endowed with a sense of humanity to which it is easy to relate.
The plot is strong, moving at a good pace without being rushed. I found racing through this book far too quickly, curious at every turn to see where the latest intrigue would lead.
I can't recommend this novel highly enough. In a genre filled with cliched rubbish, there are few authors who take the time and effort to produce a novel of quality and originality. I'm pleased to add Marcus Herniman to that list.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall an enjoyable read, 10 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
Initially I was uncertain about this book. The reviews have varied from the 5 star at one end to 1 star at the other. However, I feel that this is a really good book, but, as one previous reviewer has pointed out, you need to have an appreciation of the likes of Tolkien and Kurtz--if you don't like them then you will almost certainly not like this book. I also sense that Hernieman's background must be in medieval studies (with a Norman/Anglo-saxon slant). Back to the book: I disagree that the characters are wooden--they are perhaps not as much fleshed out as they could or should be, but I think there is a good deal of depth and realism (I mean look at the complicated relationships established between the Magi and the Rhydden, how the followers of the new and old religions are at each other's throats (more so the new against the old!), and how they are all forced to unite together against the foe, but with the underlying currents of Rhydden ensuring that the ones who pay the most should be the followers of the old ways). A splendid book, and I shall look forward to the next book with much anticipation!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually stunning, excellent character and plot development., 17 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
The Siege of Arrandin is a breathtaking book, intertwining an epic tale of a city under siege with courtly intrigue.
Marcus spins many viewpoints into a single narrative thread, and weaves them into the sharp and colourful image of a empire, divided by religious dispute, having to defend itself against a greater threat.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read - if flawed., 10 Nov 2009
By 
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
The critical reviewers do have a very good point in that the characters and names are difficult to keep straight and I found myself referring to the appended Index of Names on a number of occasions. Not ideal; the fact that we seem to have been plunged into the middle of of a story (there is constant reference to previous events) also complicates matters - perhaps a 'prequel' is needed!

Despite all that, I still found the tale an enjoyable read. I am now reading the second volume of the trilogy - enough said!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start of a new fantasy sequence, 21 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
Excellent book, with a nice central issue: the invasion of an empire by the so called barbarians, supported by another empire in an attempt to divide the former empire in two bits. Around this central issue is the story of a religious divided empire and a emperor with an enormous hunger for power and a feeling for tyranny.
The only point in disadvantage is that all the characters already carry a lot of history with them. So it is most likely that they won't evolve during the hole sequence (they didn't in the first book).
Anyway, I'm looking forward to another book from Marcus Herniman.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marcus will be the 21st century Tolkien, 15 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
What shall I say! The book is more than great - it is fantastic. An epic story, full of great characters and a magnificent plot. Can't wait for the second book..... Marcus! You did everything I expected! Namirie!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst Fantasy book I've ever read, 11 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
I thought I was really going to enjoy reading this book, but I was in for a huge disappointment. To cut a long story short(!), let's start with the author'style,which I found to be unusually convoluted. The characters are incredibly stiff and completely devoid of anything that makes a fiction persona a credible one (i.e. a sense of humour).And what about the incredibly irritating reiteration of The Lady of...this and of that before every female name(?) The language used does not help a swift and engrossing reading, moreover it constitutes an obstacle to the plot. I would gladly refer the author to the reading of something in the lines of Jane Welch's Runespell Trilogy, where the theme of the siege is brilliantly and engagingly rended.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars complicated rubbish, 6 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy) (Paperback)
I am sorry but let`s not mince words here, this book is a really awful read, in the first chapter alone you are introduced to so many characters and their long boring titles, relationships and equally boring exploits that you are left with a choice of re writing the book in long hand, or fishing out that long ago bought but never used course in memory improvement skills in order to interpret what is going on. Absolute rubbish
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The Siege of Arrandin (The Arrandin trilogy)
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