2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2010
This trilogy ends very well with a twist which, whilst not quite on the levels as endings like "The Sixth Sense" go, is not bad at all. Leaves the reader thoroughly satisfied. Not wanting to give any spoilers here but the main events focus tightly on the unravelling of the lies upon lies woven throughout Percheron's anachronistic and limited royal society. Interestingly, it proves that no matter how tightly woven the web, relationships built on intrigue, blackmail and a desire for power are all-consuming but nebulous once the winds of simple truth are blown through the halls of the harem. Of course, as a reader of this trilogy, we know everything. Our omnipotent eye is simply concerned with patiently waiting for the characters to catch up on what we've known for so very long. Which is what makes McIntosh's twist impact so cleverly at the end. We are reminded, at the last, that the author controls the tale here, not the impatient reader.
Lazar, Ana, Razeen, Herezah, Boaz, Pez, Maliz, Tariq and Salmeo (actually, I get the feeling McIntosh likes the letter 'Z') et al fight, cajole, seduce, coerce their way to a rebellion as the Galinsea naval threat arrives at the very gates of the city (Byzantium, anyone?) to sweep all aside and create a new Empire. Friends and foes alike fall and march majestically onwards to an inexorable ending. Every character's motivation are all ultimately revealed as causal, lingering on a foundation of injustice - both perceived and actual.
It's a neat, tidy trilogy. McIntosh writes fantasy that clearly deals with relationships. Fights and battles are limited (it is as far from Brent Weeks as you could get). Intrigue, power and emotional manipulation dominate with gender politics a strong theme throughout all levels of the novel. It is a series that (if you didn't know the author's name) is clearly written by a woman simply by its method, characterisation and focus...and written very well.
Enjoyable. Not earth shattering fantasy but McIntosh deserves her fans admiration and her prolific pen should continue.
on 10 February 2015
Having been captivated by the first two parts of the Percheron trilogy, "Odalisque" and "Emissary", I was eagerly awaiting the third and final part, "Goddess". Fiona McIntosh has created a world full of intriguing characters and having written the first two parts like a chess game, the end game was irresistible.
We pick up the story approximately three months after the events of "Emissary". Zaradine Ana, the wife of the Zar of Percheron, has been captured in the desert whilst travelling to the neighbouring state of Galinsea in an attempt to prevent war. Her captor, Arafanz, is determined to keep her safe as he and his army believe she is vital in the fast approaching war between the gods, believing her to be the incarnation of the goddess Lyana.
Spur Lazar, who is head of the Zar's army, but also vital to the Galinseans, sets out across the desert in an attempt to rescue Ana. He too believes that she is vital in the struggle between the gods, but she is also vital to him in a far more personal way. Travelling with him are the Zar himself and the Grand Vizier, in who lives the demon Maliz, who is to be Lyana's opponent in their battle. Maliz is confident of victory, believing he has already despatched Lyana's messenger Iridor. This, in turn, has also upset Lazar, as the human version of Iridor, Pez, was a very close friend of his.
They all wish to save Ana for their own reasons, but there are other concerns back at home. The Galinseans have made good their threat to invade Percheron and the Zar's mother, Herezah, has been left behind as Crown Valide to try and broker peace. It seems that there could be a war between the regions to match the war between the gods, with the best person to stop them both being nowhere close at hand.
This makes it sound like there is an awful lot going on and, believe me, there is far more to it than this. McIntosh builds a story like she's making a lasagne out of it - there is layer upon layer of things that are tasty enough in their own right, but when you put them all together and heat it up, the whole is simply mouth watering. Indeed, this is an even larger helping than there was before, as whilst the political intrigue of those in the palace and the underlying beginnings of the war between the gods was present in the first two parts of the trilogy, McIntosh has added the extra story of the Galinsean threat to the mix and has fitted it in so beautifully it's as if it was always there.
As if this wasn't enough, the story had so many twists and turns that it was almost dizzying. Part of the tale mentioned the Samazen - a desert wind that swirls and makes it impossible to see what is in front of you. Parts of the story were written in much the same fashion. Maliz especially was always on the move, looking to improve his position and status for the battles to become. Even when I thought we'd heard the last of him at one point, he still had some moves left in his portion of the game, most of which were completely unexpected.
However, it's not just Maliz who is making moves in unexpected ways, although he is the one who seems to be thinking more steps ahead of everyone else. As is usual for McIntosh, there is intrigue and action and jostling for position, both actual and political, in every turn. As is also usual for McIntosh, it's almost a chess game, but it's as beautifully choreographed as any dance and it's so difficult to tear your eyes away from, to the extent that I was very short on sleep for the few days I was reading the book.
McIntosh plays to all her strengths here, once again. She has created such vivid characters that you can't help but become involved in their story. It is obvious where the reader's sympathies are supposed to lie although for the first time there are characters who aren't quite so obviously on one side of the line between good and bad. For the first time, the situation is manipulating some of the characters in much the same way as the characters are trying to manipulate events and each other and it's a delightful change of pace.
If there is a slight down side to the book, it's that the ending seems a little rushed. Admittedly, everything came together and even the ending had some final twists that I hadn't expected and hadn't seen coming, which made the whole thing incredibly enjoyable, but the final confrontations that the whole trilogy was seemingly building up to seemed to be over remarkably quickly. Still, McIntosh has written the whole trilogy like a chess match and check to checkmate is only one move, so perhaps it is more in keeping with what has gone before than is immediately apparent.
"Goddess" is not the place to be starting with this trilogy, as there is far too much that has gone before to be able to follow it as a newcomer, but it's certainly a fitting end to what has been a wonderful trilogy. If you've read any of the previous books, this is not to be missed. Any fans of Trudi Canavan, Kate Elliott and Karen Miller should take a look at Fiona McIntosh and anyone who is already aware of her is going to have to wait impatiently for her next book, as to know her work is to love her work.
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
6 of 9 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.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2010
I fail to see how anyone can give this title a 4 or (gasp) 5 star rating.
McIntosh was one of my favourite writers and her first series, Trinity, was absolutely top notch. This time it was a real slog for me. I only finally made it to Goddess just to see how the whole thing would pan out; my own sense of ennui after Book 2 felt vindicated by the time I reached the conclusion. Turgid writing, endless looping of plots and whole nonsense with Ana and the gods made for an unsatisfying read.
This was a 2 parter at best and had been stretched to 3 books for the sake of marketing I imagine. Shame as I still admire McIntosh and I do hope she gets back to the highs of her earlier works by tightening her plots, presenting properly developed characters one can empathise with, and not spinning matters out where there is little need.
It tends to be too late for some of us to back out at this stage, but to those contemplating this series at the outset be aware that the promise of Book 1 may not be realised for you. Certainly was not for me. Again, shame. Well at least there's still Rothfuss and Weeks et al!