6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2008
This is yet another fantastic book by the author, set to follow in the brilliant footsteps of the myrrens gift trilogy.
It starts with the brief and mysterious introduction of Lazar, who becomes head of security and follows with the death of the monarch and the events which unfold because of his death.
His son Boaz succeeds him as Zar(ruler) and his scheming wife attempts to seize power. Boaz's only friends are a seemingly mad dwarf and the mysterious Lazar. As the demon Maliz beggins to rise in power once more, the Godesses messenger also must rise again. As if that was not enough, the powers within Boazs court are scheming against him to meet their own ends...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2010
I bought this book, the other day on impulse because it seemed like it might be an easy and fun fantasy read. I was impressed with the opening twenty or so pages, but for me this book slowly exhausted itself. I don't think the characters were realistic, I mean the love between Ana a 14 year old girl and Lazar a man of 30 was unconvincing and frankly a bit sinister.
The plot was easy to follow but didn't really gel together, as it seemed to want to many topics covered e.g. intricacies of court, how stifling tradition can be, demon possession and a emerging battle between the gods.
Usually I wouldn't write a bad review, but having read many good fantasy novels of late, such as: Joe Abercrombie's series,'The Name of the Wind', 'The Painted Man' and others, I was to be honest left feeling dissapointed.
on 10 February 2015
I was entranced recently by "Emissary", the second in Fiona McIntosh's "Percheron" trilogy and was eager to read the first to find out what I'd missed. Starting with the second book in a trilogy is often a risk as you miss out on things, but in this case, I think that reading them backwards has taken some of the excitement out of this instalment.
Zar Joreb has just passed away and his son, Zar Boaz has been elevated to the throne. His mother, now Valide Herezah and the Chief Eunuch of the harem see this as their opportunity to have a greater say in the running of Percheron, as Boaz is only fifteen and so likely to be unsure of himself.
To flex her muscles, the Valide sends the head of security, Spur Lazar, out to help populate the new Zar's harem. He returns with a young girl called Ana, who is headstrong enough to cause the Valide and the Chief Eunuch some trouble, which will result in serious punishment for others later on. Combined with the actions of Pez and a strangely different Vizier, the Valide and the Eunuch find they are not the only ones determined to win the power struggle inside the Zar's palace.
This struggle may not turn out to be the most important factor, however. There are portents suggesting that the next round in the war between the Gods may not be too far into the future and it appears that the biggest part may not be played by those who want it most.
Although I was already aware of some of the things that would happen in this book, knowing the later status of some of the characters better than I knew their status at the time of these events, I still found "Odalisque" to be a wonderful introduction to Percherese society. It's almost like a dark soap opera in many ways, with characters all manoeuvring for position and those who don't quite get it right often ending up being put to death in rather nasty ways.
As in "Emissary", it is this jostling for position that provides the greatest intrigue and entertainment. McIntosh writes her characters so well that you can almost feel their hatred for each other and it is so easy to take sides and want to cheer when events work out for your favourites and or hiss and boo when the bad guys win. Each character has their own distinct personality and there is never any danger that you will get any of them confused with each other or lose track of events, as has happened with other character driven fantasy books I've read. McIntosh gets you so involved in their lives that it becomes a similar feeling to watching a pantomime, as you can really care about what's going to happen.
There is plenty of opportunity to get involved as well, as there is barely a moment goes past where someone isn't trying to undermine someone else. Even the dwarf, Pez, who as the court jester is there for a little comic relief has a calculating side and is not immune from being involved in the politics. You cannot afford to lose concentration for a moment, for fear that the story may move on without you and you'll get left behind in the swirl of events. In this regard, the reader is equal to the characters, as they have the same fears.
The one thing that makes "Odalisque" slightly less enthralling than "Emissary" is that there isn't quite so much going on. Whereas the latter was like a chess game with pieces being moved around all over the place, this felt more like the early moves, with everyone trying to judge the strength of their opponents before making any bold moves. The secondary plot about the battle between the gods didn't really get moving terribly far, either, but it may have been my knowledge of what is to come that made me feel a little let down by that part of the story.
Once more, however, Fiona McIntosh has given us a wonderful work of character driven fantasy. I didn't enjoy this as much as her other work, but I suspect that I would have enjoyed it far more had I not read the two books in the wrong order. I think that my reservations were all down to knowing in advance some of what was going to happen and so I was less able to be caught up in events than I would otherwise have been and as I was with her other work.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Fiona McIntosh to fans of Kate Elliott and Karen Miller and the darker side of Percherese society makes me suspect that fans of Celia Friedman's darker fantasy novels may find something to like here as well. As someone who is already a fan of McIntosh, I can confirm that existing fans of her work will not be let down in the slightest, either.
This is one of those rare books which I wouldn't object to paying the full price for, and the same is true of the others in the trilogy.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
It's a book that's hard to define. Set in a place that is almost Constantinople, a Constantinople of imagination. The story starts with the death of the ruler, called the Zar, and the aftereffects of that death. With the ascention of Boaz to the throne, he's underage and there is a lot of scheming and jostling for power. Many of the powerbrokers are old and have had the power they have for a long time, and know that they could influence the new Zar.
The Zar has allies, Pez, his late father's jester, a seemingly mad dwarf; Spur Lazar, head of the security and Ana, one of the new recruits for his harem, but they too have secrets.
It does contain some disturbing scenes and occasionally the story lags I did enjoy it. At first I was looking to see if it really was fantasy or just an alternate world story but there is magic here, it's fairly subtle but it's there. The battle between the Goddess and the God embodied in their two servants is also interesting.
This book does suffer from being the first in a series, in order to set up things it has to keep some questions unanswered but I enjoyed the read and look forward to the next one.
on 14 July 2010
This is a new author to me, I found the book in my local library and didn't know what to expect. I was fascinated! It seemed a mixture of fairy tale and political thriller. I can't wait to read the next one and I will certainly look for more books by this writer.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2013
I'll say this, I kept reading the book. It was well written, I was on a train with a long journey, I decided it was worth reading rather than looking out the window.
BUT, and this is a big but, the elements of the plot are rather clichéd and the plot predictable.
- Cruel Chief Eunuch? Tick.
- Inheriting son's mother tries to rule in his place? Tick.
- Seemingly mad dwarf is actually sane and intelligent? Tick.
- Warring with another nation? Tick.
- Member of the harem to be punished for escaping? Tick.
- Our hero falls in love with this harem member? Tick.
- Nice map with mountains on? Tick. (Readers of Dianne Wynne Jones's Tough Guide To Fantasyland will follow me here).
- Battle of good and evil? Ti.... Oh hold on. No. It's not quite that simple. And because of this makes the book and it's plot redeemable.
Yes I enjoyed reading it, yet I also sniggered slightly at the slight predictability of a lot of it. Read it, but don't expect to be in awe of it.
on 18 July 2014
A beautifully crafted book stirring interest in a new series of fantasy . I loved it. Robin
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2010
I finished the last in this series a few days ago and I've been stewing ever since. This is my first Amazon review and I'm doing this because I want to spare you the grief/rage you might feel once you've read them all. Before I proceed I must say Fiona McIntosh is a great writer. She uses language well and draws you into the story, making you care about the characters. For the most part her characters are fleshed out and at least a few of her villains go beyond being one dimensional. But I suspect she may have been on some kind of medication when she wrote these - medication that makes her want to inflict pain on others. Because by the very end the best phrase I could come up with to describe the experience was "suicide inducing". Yes, it was that depressing.
The first book (obalisque) had a frustratingly retarded ending. The second, (emissary) could have been cut in half. There was just too much of it, with lots of unnecessary bits. The third (goddess) was better than the 2nd simply because you knew she had to finally stop writing now so you were at least assured of some story conclusion.
I wanted to kick her in the shins by the end. I wanted to ask why she made us care about the characters if she was going to demolish them emotionally? All the main characters felt so much pain and had no fulfillment from their lives that at the end I wished someone would have warned me. So that's what I'm doing, warning you. if you end up buying these books (and note, if you want any kind of plot resolution you have to read to the bitter end of the 3rd book) then I throw up my hands, for I cannot be blamed.
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2007
As are all of Fiona's books, this was a superbly written and compulsive page-turner. Knowing that sequels 2 and 3 are a long way away, I determined to read this slowly, but it was such an exciting story that it was impossible not to keep turning the pages! Another masterpiece from Fiona, and I am eagerly awaiting Emissary and Goddess!
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2010
it's hard work reading her books though once you've bought the 1st in a series you have to get the rest to find out what happens in the end.