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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the whole book.
This first book in Fiona McIntosh's trilogy (The Quickening) was completely enjoyable for me. I began reading it without any preconceived notions about the genre or the author and was definitely entertained. The author's descriptive passages concerning what led up to Myrren bestowing "the gift" on Wyl Thirsk was intensely moving and graphic. When that gift was revealed, I...
Published on 20 Jan. 2010 by J. Lesley

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great story, badly delivered
Myrren's Gift is the first title I have read by this author and it has left me feeling very let down.

The main storyline and underlying themes I found alluring, encapsulating some of the things a good fantasy novel should have (mystery, political intrigue, righteous cause, etc). And the idea of reincarnation for the protagonist was unique, opening many...
Published on 25 May 2009 by S. A. Ullah


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great story, badly delivered, 25 May 2009
By 
S. A. Ullah "LoneBear" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
Myrren's Gift is the first title I have read by this author and it has left me feeling very let down.

The main storyline and underlying themes I found alluring, encapsulating some of the things a good fantasy novel should have (mystery, political intrigue, righteous cause, etc). And the idea of reincarnation for the protagonist was unique, opening many opportunities for character development and growth. But it wasn't followed through. Execution was diabolical.

The pace of the story is very choppy and often stalls before picking up any sort of momentum. Descriptive imagery is weak and hardly apparent, often non-existent. Alarmingly character viewpoints are continuously changing mid-chapter. Never have I jumped between four character viewpoints in as many paragraphs. There is purposed domination by the author in 'dumping' vast amounts of information onto the reader (this can go on for 3-4 pages at a time) whilst simultaneously rushing through key scenes.

The characters are contrived, their acting and thinking often not in line with their personality traits, background or experiences. The timeline of events are unrealistic and rushed. The main character just bounces around from place to place, disaster to disaster, all within a few short weeks of each other. One day he's lying in bed with broken ribs, a few days later he's fighting in a tournament against a matched opponent, the ribs forgotten by both the character and author.

But worst of all is the author's world creation - or lack thereof. Class distinctions result in different upbringings and idealisms - but this has been ignored. There are temples and a deity called Shar - and that's all we're told about their religious beliefs, customs and how it has shaped their community. The map provided is nothing more than three rough squares clumped together. Two nations at war with each other for several centuries would hardly have their capital palaces within three days ride of each other. The Palaces of Pearlis and Werryl do not sit within a sizeable town or city. No mention is made of the government buildings, city landmarks, or rich and poor districts, no merchants or traders, no guard patrols, no beggars, no filth-ridden alleys, no city walls or the vast population - nothing. In fact the palaces seem more like country retreats.

On a journey from Pearlis to Werryl, McIntosh fails to describe the land. No visual imagery of fields, forests or hills; no sounds of wildlife; no fragrances; no changes in human settlement. In fact, the reader is left entirely to their own machinations to decide what fills this void. This is constant throughout the story.

Though these points might seem trivial, veteran readers of the genre look out for these things in a good story and quickly pick up on such shockingly amateur mistakes. Fantasy by its very nature should have a believable infrastructure which somehow feels so natural and real no matter how far it stretches the imagination, that it could really exist. McIntosh has failed to do this, and along with a major literary disaster like changing character viewpoints every few paragraphs, she has achieved nothing more than to alienate readers. I find it hard to believe this got past the editing process at Orbit and made it to print.

Never have I written a review with the aim of deterring someone from reading a book, but in this case I'll be doing you a favour. Doubt I'll purchase anything else from this author again. Instead I recommend The Mirage Makers trilogy by Glenda Larke.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the whole book., 20 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
This first book in Fiona McIntosh's trilogy (The Quickening) was completely enjoyable for me. I began reading it without any preconceived notions about the genre or the author and was definitely entertained. The author's descriptive passages concerning what led up to Myrren bestowing "the gift" on Wyl Thirsk was intensely moving and graphic. When that gift was revealed, I was completely surprised.

The book moves from one adventure straight into another which meant that it held my attention throughout. There are many characters and the lines between good and evil are very plainly drawn. I especially enjoyed the dog Knave and the young boy Fynch. I have to admit, the ending of this portion of the trilogy caught me completely off guard and makes me wonder how in the world this author will continue that particular situation in the second book. The only way to find out is to read Blood and Memory (Quickening Trilogy). This one was a very exciting, interesting fantasy adventure. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea, taken in non-interesting directions, 30 Jan. 2006
By 
Robert J. Kerr "jitsukerr" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
I'd been toying with the idea of buying this for a while. The cover blurb was interesting, and I liked the cover. (So I'm shallow.)
I think the title of this review sums up my reaction to the book. McIntosh demonstrates several "first novel" problems -- poor to 1-dimensional characterisation; multiple confusing point-of-view shifts, often changing every paragraph (and no, it wasn't meant to be omniscient); info-dumping -- and these added up to marked lack of appreciation for her prose. Still, the story itself is quite interesting, even if some of the plot twists are telegraphed rather obviously. I do think it would be a better book were it edited severely, and marketed as a YA fantasy. For those of us fantasy addicts awaiting the newest Bakker or Erikson, "Myrren's Gift" is not enough to tide us over.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 22 April 2009
By 
Mr. A. J. W. Rae "Sam" (Somerset) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
I'm often scared off by heavy fantasy, so I'd taken to bypassing the whole section in my bookshop and on Amazon. However, one fateful day in September, my best friend brought in this very book.
The cover and the synopsis fascinated me from first glance, and I immediately begged to borrow her book.
Quite simply, I found the plot addictive, the characters addictive, and her writing style addictive. The characters and the settings seem, to me, more realistic than the ones you usually find in this genre; I know this is `Fantasy' but I think sometimes the characters' in some books, their core personalities are way off the mark. The fact that her characters do not agonize for paragraphs on one tiny decision, or weren't steadfast and stubborn in their way of thinking enraptured me, and saved me from the boredom that these books can so often enforce on you.
Fiona McIntosh also cleverly constructs her plotlines with just enough give, and just enough take. The plot is neither obvious, nor irritatingly distant, and because you are flown across the distant land and a frantic pace, it makes you want to read at a frantic pace too.
So, let me just divulge to you, that I've avidly devoured every single one of her books, and found that every single one is brilliantly addictive.
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4.0 out of 5 stars AN INTERESTING BEGINNING!!!!!, 20 Oct. 2014
By 
Greggorio! (Amazing Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
I must start this review with the admission of not having read a classic fantasy tale for close to a decade. Obviously I don't claim, therefore, to be an expert judge of what makes a good fantasy novel, but with my plethora (make that a mountain) of recent books read and reviews written, I feel safe in saying that I know a good book when I read one. Myrren's Gift - Book One of The Quickening Trilogy - is one such book.

Within a scattering of chapters in this exciting, character driven tale of witchcraft, civil warcraft, treachery, magic, love, friendship, hatred and adventure, I can see immediately how much fun I have been missing out on. The book begins with the destruction of stunningly beautiful young woman falsely accused and falsely proven to be a witch by the century old forces of tradition, intimidation and most dangerously of all, the evil intent of a desperate young prince who is super keen to take control of his ageing father’s much loved kingdom. Morgravia. An interesting transformation takes place at the point of death of young Myrren which is cleverly glossed over by Ms McIntosh.

Time passes. Princes and their Commanders grow up and ageing Kings grow old. Power shifts take place and the reader’s consciousness is slowly but gradually taken over the world class story-telling abilities of the authoress. Sooner rather than later, chapters begin to fly by quicker than you can believe and the story soon becomes unsurprisingly addictive. The first pivotal moment of the book comes literally at the end of chapter eight when our hero, Wyl Thirsk, comes face to face with a blind seer who gives him - and the reader - not just a scare, but a very welcome reference and link to the wonder that was Myrren and the terrible sacrifice she was forced to pay for being cursed with different coloured eyes.

The only negative claim against the book early on is the lack of dragons included in the story. I like dragons. I really, really, really like dragons. Given the fantastical nature of the book, however, and the immense talents of the creator of this amazing universe, I would not be surprised at what lurks just around the corner. Or just beyond the next hill, laying in wait to grab us by their immense talons and hold us safely and securely against her sword-proof, twelve-inch thick scaly chest as she exhales flames longer and taller than a medieval village.

So in summary, MYRREN’S GIFT is a solid and very entertaining four star story, a hugely exciting start to what promises to be a memorable fantasy trilogy.

BFN Greggorio!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best fantasy books I have ever read., 6 Dec. 2010
By 
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
Myrren's Gift is the first volume of The Quickening trilogy (before Blood and Memory, and The Bridge of Souls).

The book opens on a battle, in which King Magus of Morgravia and his Commander of the Legion and best friend Fergys Thirsk fight against King Valor of Briavel. Morgravia wins but Fergys dies.

The story then focuses on their teenage heirs, Prince Celimus and Wyl Thirsk, the new Commander of the Legion. As King Magus's health deteriorates, he asks Wyl to pledge an oath that he will always serve and protect Celimus. Although the sons have always hated each other, Wyl has no choice but to obey his duty. Unsurprisingly, Celimus takes every opportunity to hurt and humiliate Wyl, such forceing him to witness the torturing and burning of the young woman Myrren. When Wyl shows the alleged witch some mercy by speeding her death, Myrren gives him a strange gift, one he won't understand at first.

Later, Wyl plays a trick on Celimus, thwarting his plans of deflowering his younger sister Ylena after winning the tournament at Stoneheart. In reciprocation, Celimus sends Wyl to Briavel on a diplomatic mission to ask the hand of Princess Valentyna, but instead of allowing his faithful Legionnaires to accompany him, he makes him go with a bunch of mercenaries, among them the handsome Romen Koreldy, secretly commissioned to kill Wyl once the deal is sealed. This is when Myrren's curious gift reveals itself.

It's been a very long time since I last read anything that good, and I must thank Robin Hobb for recommending this author. Although the main characters might seems a little Manichean at first, the plot is absolutely riveting, with several unexpected and stunning turns complexifying the intrigue and a wonderful cast of supporting roles. Wow!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read with interesting concept, despite faults, 16 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
I very much enjoyed this book on the whole. I think the concept of Myrren's gift was an excellent and brave idea which was carried off very well. In many ways, it is a brave story because the changes to the protagonist is so profound. But the author does carry it off.

In general, the fantasy world was convincing enough for me, if a bit bland.

But the difference between three stars and four stars for me was the ending. I loved it. I wouldn't say it was a big shock, but it was what I hoped for and certainly encourages me to read the next part.

Many reviewer before me have made some harsh criticisms of the story, and to be honest, most of them are valid comments. So they are worth reading.

Even I found the fantasy Universe to be a bit unimaginative and many of the main charactewrs to be a bit one dimensional.

But the worst bit of the book was about three quarters of the way through when it seemed to turn into some sickly love romance story which you would normally see in the pages of Daniel Steele. Not that I have anything against Daniel Steele. But I just feel that you just can't mix Pulp Romance with Fantasy.

In fact, it would not surprise me if Fiana McIntosh is a fan of Pulp Romance in general because parts of this book have the same characteristic. i.e. Once dimensional elitist characters (as nearly every one of importance is a noble or has special powers) in a relatively bland setting.

Also it includes some of the worst cliches in Fantasy with an evil prince, a reluctant heros and an exceptionally beautiful princess and the barbarian in the mountains, and let us not forget the wonder child and the Lassie like dog. (Makes me think of Fable II and Dragon Age).

However, I very much the enjoyed the book as a whole (except the Daniel Steele part). As mentioned before, the whole concept of the book (i.e the gift) and the political intrigue kept me interested. In general, I found the story quite enthrawling and read it avidly especially after the first quarter. In summary the story was good enough from my perspective to forgive some of the negative points.

So from my point of view it was worth reading, and I am looking forward to the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much torture, 16 Aug. 2008
By 
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
Read the reviews and blurb and thought great just my kind of book. Bought all books in the trilogy. Whilst I loved the story and found the plot interesting I was bitterly let down by the author's morbid and worrying fasination with violence and torture. I felt there was no need to dedicate pages to the description of torture as it occured in all 3 books. Would have been my triology of the year so far had there been less torture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vividly Gruesome, 21 April 2011
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
Set in the days of knights and witches,this is a story of Will,a young son of the general of the kings army and best friend of the king. Upon his death(saving the kings life)The king promised his best friend to look after the boy until he is old enough to become the next general and so he was moved into the royal palace.
The prince however is a bitter and spiteful teenager and does not take kindly to coming second best to the gererals son. So he plots to belittle and discredit young Will by forcing him to watch a young girl tourchered and burned as a witch. when that doesn't work,he soon beguins to plot to rid himself of Will forever.
But an unforseen "gift" finds Will undead and trapped in his murderers body and so sets out to find out who did this to him. This is a story of tragedy,murder and magic but runs side by side by irony and wonderful spontanious laugh out loud moments. Don't be put off,the story does split into a few paralel story lines but are all relevent to the main characture where all becomes clear...as all good murder mysteries do. Fantastic for those looking for something very different.TEN STARS!Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing new fantasy series, 21 Feb. 2005
By 
Timbertwig (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One (Paperback)
When I first saw Myrren's Gift, the first book of The Quickening, in my local bookshop, I did not think it was a fantasy novel. The cover art showing a towering castle in a mountainous region suggested a historical epic or perhaps a medieval romantic saga. A quick read of the blurb, however, was enough to convince me to give this book by an unknown Australian author a try.
Wyl Thirsk is the king's general. When he witnesses the execution of Myrren, a girl accused of witchcraft, he shows her compassion and mercy. In return, Myrren promises Wyl a gift but he quickly dismisses the notion, thinking the doomed girl had nothing left to give. He is to find, however, that his simple act of kindness would trigger a series of events that will change his life forever.
Myrren's Gift does not have dwarfs, elves, wizards or talismans of magic. On the surface, Wyl's world appears "too" Earth-like and ordinary, inhabited by mere humans and everyday animals. The ferocious ekons are the only species I remember that are entirely from McIntosh's imagination. In fact, Wyl's sidekick and loyal companion is an inconspicuous dog and not a fire-breathing dragon or even a mischievous halfling.
A few chapters into the book, however, and you will see that Fiona McIntosh has nevertheless created a rich and satisfying world to please any seasoned fantasy reader. Instead of electrifying showdowns between powerful magicians, she gives us intriguing conflicts and edge-of-the-seat situations. And where other writers would attempt to dazzle readers with both wonderful and hideous creatures, McIntosh instead offers us unforgettable human characters who are easy to like and care about.
Wyl is one of the most believable protagonists I have come across - brave but not perfect. Liryk, Lothryn, and Cailech the mountain king are also three-dimensional characters who aren't obviously copied from other novels. And Elspyth and Valentyna are two strong female characters who will no doubt deliver much in the next books in the series. Only the character of Celimus - the power-hungry king and main antagonist to Wyl - is predictable and one we have seen many times before.
The story is fast paced and easy to read. The plot never thins and new, minor characters are constantly introduced to keep up the momentum. McIntosh is adept at springing surprises at just the right moments and the twist at the end will have you crying out for the next instalment. My only complaint is that the tone of the novel was generally serious throughout. The book would have been a stronger one had McIntosh injected a bit of comic relief here and there - there was no token humorous character that's so common in fantasy novels.
Despite this, I am looking forward to Blood and Memory, the next book in the series, which unfortunately is not published in the UK until July 2005. McIntosh is a fantasist to watch out for.
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Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One
Myrren's Gift: The Quickening Book One by Fiona McIntosh (Paperback - 20 Jan. 2005)
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