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Uneven Compared to Tigana, Arbonne and Lions of Al-Rassan
on 25 March 2000
I would have liked to have given this work higher praise, and based solely upon the prologue and second section of the work could have. However, part one of the narrative remains for me very uneven, in large part burdened by a journey that appears to accomplish little, other than bringing together several companions of the adventure and muddying the tale with religious and magical elements that at the book's conclusion remain attenuated and for the most part unexplained as to their relationship within the larger context of the story. Granted, these unresolved and only partially substantiated elements may find resolution in the second volume, but to date they remain incompletely integrated into the narrative, and only tenuous and apparently dangling story threads, and in the manner they have been introduced and followed here, I question that any further development will entirely be successful in fully incorporating them into the later volume. I hope I am proven wrong. However, for the moment this work seems to lack the tight plotting that was a strength in Tigana, Song for Arbonne, and The Lions of Al-Rassan, and seems in part a return to the often extraneous and wandering plot development present in The Fionavar Trilogy.
Nonetheless, in comparison to many works of fantasy currently available, this book remains far better than most, and the prologue is almost worth the price of admission in and of itself. I will await the release of the second and concluding volume--though I will wait until it's out in paperback--in the hope that its pages will do much to repair and restore the stumble that appears to occur in the early portion of the story. Despite my hesitation to fully applaud this effort, Kay remains among the handful of authors representing the best in fantasy fiction.