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on 14 November 2005
I was looking for something new as I was pretty much up to date with the popular fantasy writers. Well....I am sure Jennifer Fallon is now one of my preferred authors.
A little slow on the start but this book develops into a fantastic story of court intrigue.
Dirk Provin is an extremely intelligent and is happy with his life untill he is claimed by the Lion of Senet to come and work at his court.
In the meantime a sailor well known to most non-supporters of the Lion of Senet is shipwrecked and thrown onto the island of Elcast. This opens up the story big time!!!
Revelations all over and characters are very well developed.
The book is fantasy however there is not a lot of magic, spells or wizardy this book is more about kingdoms, invasions, intrigues and rivalries.
I am happy that I ordered this book and will finish the triology for sure!
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on 30 March 2004
Many consider Tolkien's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, the benchmark to which every other epic fantasy work is compared. The first book in The Second Sons Trilogy leaves the reader with the impression that this series will receive top marks in that scale. Jennifer Fallon creates a craftily depicted world with characters the reader will love or hate with passion. I became so engrossed in the story that I could not put this book down until I finished it.
Ranadon once again has two suns surging through its sky, but its inhabitants have suffered greatly in the past when one of the suns disappeared and the Age of Shadows began. The High Priestess, Belagren, with the help of a great mathematician, Neris, discovered the secrets about the Age of Shadows, which is a natural phenomenon that depends on the orbits of the suns. In her eagerness for power, Belagren used this information to her advantage and claimed that the Goddess spoke to her and told her exactly were the sun would return, granted that certain sacrifices were made. It all worked out, and Belagren gained considerable power through this stratagem. However, Neris sealed the secrets inside a deadly Labyrinth, and threw himself off a cliff, presumably dying.
In her need to know when the next Age of Shadows will return, so as to prove her communication with the Goddess, Belagren convinced the Lion of Senet, ruthless ruler of the strongest kingdom in Ranadon, to search for Neris because she suspects the genius is still alive. Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Dhevyn, which is "controlled" by Senet, the second son of Duchess Mirna of Elcast is being trained to be a physician. He is a bright boy and is thrown in the middle of the action when the Lion of Senet and Belagren arrive to Elcast looking for a very special prisoner, who was left unconscious in the coast after a tidal wave made his vessel the victim of a shipwreck.
The plot is complex but easy to understand, with religion and politics cleverly intertwined in a mix that achieves a similar effect on the reader to the one "Dune" accomplishes. There are many characters, but with the help of the character list and the masterful descriptions the author elaborates, it is reasonably easy to keep track of them. I would recommend following the story closely with the map provided, at least until the reader gets a clear idea of the geographical location of the different places mentioned. This will make the book a lot more enjoyable and easy to follow. Finally, an extra benefit in this trilogy is that it is already written in its entirety, thus, there is no need to wait a long time for the next two installments, which have already been published in Australia and New Zealand. If you like epic fantasy I highly recommend you read this book and discover what Fallon has to offer.
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on 24 August 2006
It got off to a slow start, but this turned out much better than I thought it would. It's the characters that make the story and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen to all the different people involved. Okay, it might not be deep and meaningful stuff, but this book had me really engrossed for the past week. An entertaining and enjoyable read.
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on 20 December 2005
Slow start but highly rewarding when you stick to it. As usual the cornucopia of names and places is the tough bit in any new fantasy world but once you are past that the story rips along.
A great new talent.
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on 7 November 2005
Although the synopsis didn't really intrigue me much, and I'm not even sure why I ordered it, the book was worth it all. The main character begins to display amazing talents towards the end and prove everyone wrong about him (always satisfying). And, just in case you're not sick of it all in the end, there are two more books to follow.
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on 29 April 2010
Completely unaware of Jennifer Fallon's work, I've discovered a terrific author. Of course, at this time, I've only read the three books of this trilogy, but I believe she will be on the top of my favorite writers list with Robin Hobb.

The story told in this trilogy, and especially in this book, is a bit difficult to resume. It's a world post war, with a territory occupied by the mighty Senet, ruled by the Lion of Senet. And of course, the particularity of this world is the two suns. So, it's never completely dark.

We follow a handful of characters, like the Lion of Senet, or the son of a duke (Dirk), even acrobat/whore,...

The main character is definitely Dirk, second son of a Duke, true genius and quite the (un)popular guy. But, as in all fantasy story, the other characters are important too.

The beginning of the story kind of bugged me. The fist couple of chapters was really intriguing and then, Paf!, we find ourself reading about something else entirely, and, a bit boring... But it doesn't last!

In this kind of fantasy, no elves, no dragon, no magic... Just a plain and not quite simple political plot, with a lot of twists. To make it short : a resistance trying the get their land free of the Senet occupation. But, it is really not that simple, because you have to deal with a brand new religion imported from Senet, which becoming more and more popular.

If you like the books of Robin Hobb, you will probably like this one too. If you are more a Lord of the ring's fan, and if you need the orcs, the magics and the great battles, this book won't be for you.
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on 25 May 2006
This book has relatively little hard action but is clever, with an interesting plot and is refreshingly different from many other books in the genre. Its nice to see the 'hero' as it were able to use their brain and outsmart people, as well as having to show human characterstics and flaws, forced to act in a manner that is anathema to the typical good brave messiah character with principles set in stone that is seen far too often in mediocre works. A fast paced exciting novel in a compelling series. Recommended.
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on 7 October 2009
This book is simply amazing (along with the rest of the trilogy). The characters and storyline are so gripping it was hard to put this book down.

Dirk Provin is an amazing character who, at first, seems to be a humble boy but as the story progresses turns into this intelligent and gripping character who is caught up in the political games of Antonov's court and religion. The only character I don't really like as I feel she is unnecesary is Marquel. She is scheming and quite annoying at times.

Jennifer Fallon has written an intelligent and gripping trilogy which has an amazing ending. It has plenty of twists and turns which keep you hooked.
I would recommend this book and the other books!
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on 8 February 2016
Overall, this was a fairly good book. I would class this series as 'political fantasy'. There's no magic system or mythical creatures; it's simply a fantasy equivalent of medieval earth where different people, factions and countries wrestle for power.
There are many positives: the premise is very intriguing. The planet is orbited by two suns, so there's no night. However one day, one of the suns disappears and plunges the world into chaos. When it returns, the question is: was this due to religious zealots pleasing the goddess through sacrifice or is there a mathematical/ scientific explanation? This is the basis for the series.
Also, Jennifer Fallon populates her world with a plethora of main characters; and the vast majority are very interesting and fleshed out. Often within fantasy, the world feels a little sparse, with a few main protagonists and events within the book seem to focus on and effect them alone - which is unrealistic. Here, each character has a strong stake in the story. And even with a host of characters, there's sufficient depth.
However there are negatives. The plot is very messy; certain characters do and say things that are completely contrary to logic; just so that the plot can advance. For example letting characters live when they have no reason to let them go and so on. Their motivation is bizarre at times.
It also took me a long time to finish the book due to the fact that it wasn't very gripping. But it had enough about it that I will read book two in the future. Now that the author has established the characters, it may be interesting to see where she takes them. 7/10.
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on 8 July 2004
Jennifer Fallon's Lion of Senet, the first book in her Second Sons trilogy, is simply a fun read. Fallon is not a new writer, but she is new to North American audiences, with this book just coming out this year. Thankfully, Bantam is publishing all three books within months of each other, so the third book is actually out. Having read the first two from the library, I am chomping at the bit to read the third.
The title of the series has a double meaning (the two suns that Ranadon orbits around, as well as the obvious meaning). I like that touch. First, not only is Dirk a second son, but his friend Kirsch is the Lion's second son. Both will become heavily involved in all of the schemes flying around the area. Secondly, the second sun disappearing for a time plays a large part in the series. The last time that happened, anarchy reigned and Belagren and the Lion were able to take power because Belagren was able to say when the sun would reappear (because the Goddess told her, she said). She told the Lion that he would have to sacrifice one of his children to bring it out, knowing full well that it would come naturally even without this. Now, the secret of when the next "Age of Shadows" will come is hidden from her, and she's desperate to find out.
There is an underlying tension between science and religion in the book, with Fallon coming down on the side of science (at least within the series itself). The "true" Goddess religion is rarely, if ever mentioned, and only Belagren's perverted form is present. Her opponents are firm believers that the Age of Shadows is a scientific thing and not a religious one. And, of course, we are shown that they are right. Lip service is given to how Belagren has moved away from the real Goddess, but we aren't given much information so it appears that there is no "real" religion on Ranadon. I found that disappointing.
That is the only disappointment for me, however. Fallon does a wonderful job of both plotting and characterization. The plot is very centralized (the Lion has control of Dhevyn and wants to solidify that control, and Belagren wants to keep her own hold on power) but yet it is vast. It covers at least three years in this book alone, and ranges all over the islands and into Senet itself. While there are a few too many predictable "one day I'll have power, and then you'd better watch out" proclamations, the story itself actually has a fair number of surprises. King Johan's fate truly surprised me, as the expected rescues didn't happen, and what ultimately does happen to him knocked me for a loop. In fact, that entire scene, the confrontation between the Lion, Johan, Dirk, and a few others (I won't reveal more) is riveting. And that's not even the ending of the book!
This leads into Fallon's prose. The text grabbed me and wouldn't let me go until I finished the book. I had a lot of trouble putting the book down, as the Fallon's descriptions amazed me and her dialogue was almost flawless. The characterization was wonderful as well, with only Marqel feeling a bit too forced. I did find that both Kirsch and her being instantly obsessed with each other was a bit unbelievable, but I was able to get past it very quickly because I was so entranced with everybody else. There are too many characters to name (as they're all good), but Dirk is the main one, and he is almost perfect. He's very intelligent and he just wants to become a physician. He finds himself trapped in all of the political games (especially once his secret is revealed to him) and just wants to be left alone. Since that's not going to happen, though, he has to use his wits and discovers that he's capable of playing the political game as well. When he has to commit a final horrible but compassionate action, he's devastated but able to think on his feet.
The plot is so intricate that if the characterization failed, the book would fall apart. It's the characters who build the foundation and make the reader interested in the complicated story. And it is complicated, with scheming going on all over the place. But it's well worth the time and effort to keep things straight, and it's not really that complicated if you pay attention. There is almost no combat in the novel, but there is a torture scene that made me a bit squeamish. Unfortunately for those weak-of-heart, it's in the middle of the riveting scene mentioned above, so you may just have to put up with it. It's not that bad, though. Just grin and bear it. Believe me, it's well worth it.
David Roy
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