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3.4 out of 5 stars13
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 29 October 2012
Russell Kirkpatrick has the touch of JRR Tolkien about him in his extensive world building and complex plot, which I feel is both exciting as it is impressive. Across the face of the world is the first installment in the Fire of Haven trilogy (in the earth abides the flame and the right hand of God), that is set within the incalculable sixteen kingdoms of Faltha. The world is as richly imagined as in any modern fantasy by an accomplished author whose ingenious ideas, alongside the scope and depth that is delved into will blow you away. In the snow covered village of Loulea five men and women set out on an epic journey of discovery, that will not only change their lives forever but which ultimately will decide the fate of their entire world. It is an incredible, thrilling adventure that will have you glued to the page for hours on end and one which I strongly urge you to discover, for it will alter and change your perception on epic fantasy and the foundations of this genre that never fails to astonish me with new works.

The immortal destroyer (also known as Kannwar) has for two thousand years been planning revenge on the most high, and now his plans are nearing fruition as he surges forwards with the pieces falling into place. Kannwar drank from the forbidden fountain and so was cast out of Dona Mihst thus being set free to take his vengeance. Meanwhile a trader known as Mahnum escapes from the destroyer's prison, with the Lords of fear sent in pursuit whilst the escaper makes his way to Loulea. As Mahnum and his wife are captured it is then that his two sons Leith and Hal, together with a small group of villagers set off on a perilous quest to free Mahnum and Indrett, and warn those of significance that war is coming. The great battle is set, the pieces are all in motion and the future of the entire world rests on the shoulders of a group of people who aim to restore peace and destroy the evil that dwells throughout the kingdoms.

Once you have begun the adventure you will not rest until it is over. This tale may sound like just another magical, fantastical journey but it is so much more than that and is written with such depth and profundity as to quicken the beating of your heart. I lost myself within this mighty masterpiece that I cannot enthuse about enough, and which I rank highly next to many great writers of this genre. Great battles and wars rage as are heroes set out on horseback under the moonlight to try and overcome this evil, and fight for what they love most in this world. Courage and bravery, love and honor the characters will find a special place within the reader's heart as they speak to you through their actions and emotions. This is an author whose work has sparked my imagination, he has opened my eyes to what is deemed to be possible in the world of fantasy and has reinstated and affirmed my love for this genre by his works, which express all that is loved in epic fantasy. I cannot wait to read the next installment within this great trilogy and add more of Russell Kirkpatrick's books to my bookshelves, being another literary `giant' who will be placed next to Hobb and Tolkien, Feist, Jordan and Elliot. Just so staggering and superbly brilliant!
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VINE VOICEon 22 March 2007
This is debut fantasy novel that unfortunately follows many of the more tiresome conventions of the genre. Disregarding recent advances in character development and plot as evidenced by The Malazan Book of the Fallen, A Song of Ice and Fire and The Prince of Nothing series, Russel Kirkpatrick instead falls back on the callow youth destined for greatness, a prophecy foretelling the same, and a long and at times tedious trek to Rivendell - sorry, Instruere.

There are some good things in this book: the history and geography of Kirkpatrick's world is detailed and believable.

What is lacking are the characters to bring this world to life. Many of the characters remain cyphers (Hal, Will, Stella, the old farmer) who wander across the detailed landscape seemingly for no purpose. The only character that seemed to come alive for me was the fat and atheist Haufuth - an interesting stance in a world seemingly ruled by an unforgiving god.

Sadly, in this book at least, character development is secondary to the desire to drag the characters across the landscape. Very occasionally there are periods of excitement (such as when the heroes finally catch the villains they are chasing) and these parts contained much tighter writing, which did at least keep me reading.

I can only hope that in subsequent books Kirkpatrick will abandon the fantasy conventions and develop the occasional flashes of inspiration found here.
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on 13 December 2010
I tried reading this book and managed to get half way through it and then eventually stopped because I could not endure any more of it.It lacks characterization and the author seems to have tried to create a Tolkien like adventure but sadly it fails badly. It is difficult to empathise with any of the characters and there is no main character to speak of although at the beginning of the book one is compelled to believe it is Hal or Leif, the two young brothers. Their parts in the book turn out to be secondary to the landscape and at times their prescence on the journey is forgotten about leaving me to have thought "did they fall of their horse" or "get left on the side of road". Such is the way the characters and urgency of the story is so nochalently treated. It is one of the worst books i've read unfortunately.
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on 5 May 2009
I have read a good many fantasy & science fiction books over the last 50 years or so and enjoyed most of them but this is one of the few that I have forced myself to continue with.
The author appears to have read Lord of the Rings and seems to have attempted to write something of a similar nature but fails miserably!!
It has been a real chore to actually continue reading this tedious, uninteresting, unimaginative tale.
The level of detail that the author uses to try to create a believable world becomes too distracting from the plot with the characters constantly telling 'stories ' to the other characters and I found myself skipping pages just to get back to the plot.
The story is 671 pages long and I reckon it could be condensed to 200 or so pages and still be tedious.
I found it difficult to relate to most of the characters and would have actually like to have killed off one or two halfway through e.g. Farr and Kurr.
Trudy Canavan rates this book as follows, "Not since Tolkien have I been so awed", which makes me wonder, either how much did they pay her or what on earth has she been reading?
As you may have guessed I won't be reading the other 2 parts of this trilogy.
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on 1 January 2009
If you've read the other reviews of Russell Kirkpatrick's 'Across the Face of the World' then you might be forgiven in thinking this is just another attempt to get on the post-Tolkien quest bandwaggon. You would be wrong. Let's just concentrate on the good points: first, Kirkpatrick is not afraid to lose a few 'heroes' along the way making it deliciously unpredictable; second, he doesn't get bogged down in the typical Fantasy writer's swamp of unending genealogical family trees where Bwalin was son of Dwalin son of Fralin etc. etc. and massive pre-histories leading to the action of the book. He avoids Stephen Donaldson main hero angst, the unending splurge of Robert Jordan's epic, the gothic horror of China Mieville and even the Greek mythological overtones in Tolkien. What he is left with is a refreshing tale which never lets you draw your breath. The characters do everything 'on the run' and, as in real life, goals and objectives change as circumstances around them change. This is no grand epic to detsroy a ring or to preserve the Arch of Time. It's more how a relatively normal bunch of people can survive the horrors all around them.
And finally, what sets Kirkpatrick apart is his wonderful ability to take his foot off the pedal for a few moments, to describe the flora and fauna of the countryside backdrop and how much the characters want to abandon their quests and just live out their lives in the quiet sanity of a quiet wood.
If you want a book which will keep you enthralled, turning pages and wondering when you go to bed what will happen next and who just might not survive it all, then get Across the Face of the World. It's well worth the ride and heaps better than 90% of the rest of the current Fantasy genre.
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on 31 January 2005
The first word that comes to mind in regard to the book is 'gentle'. It's a very gentle read, measured in pace, with plenty of quiet talks around the fireside. Quite beautiful actually.
This main impression doesn't mean that there aren't any battles (all smallscale), or some very tense moments. It's just the wonderfully rendered descriptions of the landscape (it is called 'Across the Face of The World' for a reason) have a lulling effect, which is not to be confused with boring, and create a sense that you've been transported elsewhere.
The characters blend with their landscapes, growing and changing as the landscape does. There are heartful talks, prophecies, self-reflection and spouts of anger. The characters are all very human, and therefore very likeable.
The book does start out with only a few characters forming the central Company, but others are encountered along the way, from individuals to new cultural groups, and these encounters are all interesting and, even when not central to the plot, help the pace keep moving.
There are shifts of perspective that are sometimes unclearly delineated. These shifts aren't confusing in any way, and actually help that lulling effect, adding to that ever-moving feeling that the book has.
There's no doubt that this is a book devoted to world-building, and a very convincing world it is. It's not often you find a world so carefully constructed and it's a great pleasure to read.
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VINE VOICEon 9 June 2006
Russell Kirkpatrick's debut novel in the Fire of Heaven trilogy is an aborbing and original tale. The characterisation throughout is remarkably realistic, with his main characters, appealing but very humanly flawed.

A raggle taggle bunch of villagers, including a cripple, an old farmer, a teenage boy and an overweight village chief set off in the depths of winter to rescue two villagers kidnapped in the night by unknown assailants.

The villagers are parents to two of the boys in the rescue party, young Leith and his crippled brother Hal. Leith's teenage fancy Stella is taken with them only slighly against her will after she overhears their plans. She is happy to escape an unwilling forced marriage and proves a valiant ally in troubles to come.

The Watcher tells them they will find unlooked for friends and foes and indeed it is so as they find help and relief in unexpected quarters.

Across the face of the World is a gripping tale - my only regret is in finding it so early, I now have a twelve month to wait for the next installment.
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on 1 June 2007
Ok, I'm on Chapter 5 and I think I'll stop here. I was desperate to find this book again, having picked it up and dropped it on one visit to a bookshop. The idea of a real mapmaker building a world was so appealing. There is even a cross-section of a mountain, great stuff! I'm also well used to evil characters and the curse of immortality vs the advantage of having plenty of time to learn things. But this author is a Christian. By chapter 5 I'm having the difference between magic and miracles rammed down my throat. Uuuurgh! Tolkein didn't do this, you know. It is possible to love Tolkein (a Christian) and Pullman (an atheist) equally. In this book I already feel lectured.

I'll just go back to reading Scott Lynch's superb Lies of Locke Lamorra to my children instead.
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on 27 May 2007
I just looked at the writers web site, on it he explains he spent ten year creating the world for this book and then writing the book. It shows in both its strengths and weaknesses. The book is set in a brilliantly realised world, the attention to the physical landscape passed through during the quest is, at times breathtaking. Unfortunately the plot is episodic and disjointed. Sections of plot seem to exist only for the moment, they stand alone as dead ends in the story. While they may be worthy in themselfs they do not hold together to satisfy a the requirements of a novel who's plot is basicaly a chase, a most linnear narrative form.

On balance i did enjoy the novel. I would recomend it anyone who is an existing fan of fantasy, but its not something i would suggest to anyone as a first experiance of the genre
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on 19 June 2006
Russell Kirkpatrick has written a story with such vivid and exquisite descriptions of the people, places and events that you can not only imagine the pictures in your head, but you can hear them, see, touch and smell it all!

For those of you who generally skip sections of passage because you don't like this character or that, you will not find it here. There is something to "love" about them all, and even more to detest in those you don't, enough that you want to read more!!!

I definately recommend this book for people who love fantasy.

Just make sure you can get your hands on all three parts at once!
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