Customer Reviews


24 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building upto something big
This was a very good book. It follows two story lines, from points of View from Alain and Liath. Alain who is fostered by Henri, lives a simple life. When he becomes 16 he is to be sent to the Monastery, but things turn out to be different. His character build up was excellent, and I really like how his Dreams and Visions are shown. He does not know who his real father...
Published on 21 Mar 2001

versus
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has potential
I'm still not sure about this book, though I will probably try the second in the series to see how it progresses.
On the one hand, traditional fantasy fare; a pair of teenagers thrown into events that they would never have dreamt of being involved in a year before, largely seeing the world through their innocent eyes. In other words, derivative of most other fantasy...
Published on 12 July 2004


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has potential, 12 July 2004
By A Customer
I'm still not sure about this book, though I will probably try the second in the series to see how it progresses.
On the one hand, traditional fantasy fare; a pair of teenagers thrown into events that they would never have dreamt of being involved in a year before, largely seeing the world through their innocent eyes. In other words, derivative of most other fantasy novels, and therefore, as a basis for a book, frankly now rather boring.
On the other hand, it is well written, there are a number of subplots surrounding the central theme, not to mention hints of plots that have yet to be uncovered - presumably in later novels. And above all, a rather more realistic portrayal of such a world than you traditionally get.
But my biggest problem with the novel, and what most discourages me about reading it, and further entries in the series, stems from that realism. The author acknowledges at the front the role various experts on medieval Europe have played in her writing of the series. Which is just the problem - to a large extent the novel is SET in medieval Europe. The Church, in particular, is blatantly the Catholic Church anytime up to around the reformation. She's even hardly bothered to change the names - the pope has become the scopos, bishops are now biscops and so on. The Emperor that people keep referring to is Charlemagne. Frankly, in my fantasy novels, although I like realism, I also like the author to have put a little effort into creating something unique. Kate Elliot hasn't, she's merely changed the names, and introduced references (medieval Europe references, at that) to sorcery. Oh, and she's made women more politically powerful. Much as I think this has potential, I can't get over the feeling that it should really be in the historical fiction section. If I had wanted to read about medieval Europe, I would have bought a book on the subject.
Overall, as I say, I will probably buy the second book, if only to see how some of the plot devises develop. But they had better do so if I am to read the entire series. There are plenty of books out there set in a truly fantasy world that this one has to have something rather good from a plot, character or writing perspective to get over the fact that the author has spent so little time in the creation of her world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing opening to a huge series., 3 Sep 2007
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Kate Elliott (the pen-name of American writer Alis A. Ramussen) sensibly starts things off on a small scale with the opening book in the Crown of Stars series. The setting is the continent of Novaria, a fantasised version of Europe in the early medieval period. The opening volume takes place in the unified kingdoms of Wendar and Varre (Germanic states by other names), which through dynastic marriage are now ruled jointly by King Henry. However, his elder half-sister Sabella plots rebellion against him and mobilises the Varren nobles to war. At the same time, the savage nonhuman Eika are heavily raiding the northern coast of the kingdom and besieging the city of Gent, and King Henry's court is involved in intrigue as Henry plots to make his bastard son Sanglant (the result of a union between Henry and an Aoi or elf woman in his youth), his heir, to the displeasure of his eldest legitimate daughter Sapentia.

This opening novel follows three principal characters. Alain is a foundling, raised by his foster-family and promised to the Church. However, the destruction of the local monastary by Eika raiders sets Alain on a new path as his destiny intersects with that of Count Lavastine, who coincidentally once had a bastard son sent to be raised by freeholding family, a decision he now regrets. Readers may groan at this cliche and it is rather predictable in this opening volume. However, Elliott cleverly subverts this expectation in later volumes in the series.

The second POV character is Liath, a beautiful young woman who has spent much of her life on the run with her father, fleeing from unseen, unknown enemies who desire her father's immense knowledge of astrological magic. Unfortunately, whilst they evade their shadowy pursuers they run into the unwelcome attentions of Frater Hugh, a churchman with a hunger for knowledge, and for Liath.

The third POV, and the most interesting, is that of Rosvita, a churchwoman constructing an elaborate history of the Wendish peoples for the King's aged mother. Her role in the storyline is initially merely to give us a look at the inner workings of King Henry's court, but later she assumes a more proactive role.

This is a busy opening novel, with Alain and Liath both having quite active lives and the plotline twists and turns unexpectedly around them, whilst dynastic struggles ensure elsewhere. The general feeling of the book is a lighter, somewhat less accomplished (but not unenjoyably so) version of A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. The political intrigue is simplistic by comparison to GRRM's masterpiece, but still more interesting than a lot of other fantasy writers attempt in their novels.

Elliott's biggest success is in her worldbuilding. Like GRRM, she has constructed a fantasy version that is so close to real medieval history at times you ponder why she didn't just write a historical novel, but the changes to real history are nevertheless interesting, such as the equally male-and-female-controlled Church. Like Robert Jordan before her, Elliott has gone to some difficulties to create an equal-opportunities fantasy world where men and women are equals and, like Jordan, she broadly succeeds, although you can poke holes in some of her reasoning as to how this came about. She also captures the fact that in the early Medieval period (the setting seems comparable to the 8th-10th centuries or so) battles were won and lost by small armies consisting of just a couple of thousand troops, and also that society was built on rising hierarchal tiers that were extremely difficult to bypass. Elliott also builds interesting characters and makes you care about them, particularly Alain, Rosvita and some of the secondary characters like Margrave Villam and Prince Sanglant.

There are some substantial flaws, however. It's incredibly difficult to like Liath because she spends pretty much every chapter moaning and whining about her circumstances, but is utterly unable to take action to change those circumstances. Her chronic inability to trust anyone and her inabilty to tell her few friends about the secrets that haunt her makes her a wearying character to read, and her cruel tormenting by Hugh inspires only pity, not respect or true sympathy. The fact that she has to be rescued from every situation by someone else eventually makes her an even more tedious character. Similarly, there are some irritating repetitions of phrase and a certain blandness in some parts of the writing that let the overall story down.

That said, Elliott manages to intrigue you with events in this first volume and the cliffhanger ending does make you want to pick up the second book, which I suppose was the main objective all along.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building upto something big, 21 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This was a very good book. It follows two story lines, from points of View from Alain and Liath. Alain who is fostered by Henri, lives a simple life. When he becomes 16 he is to be sent to the Monastery, but things turn out to be different. His character build up was excellent, and I really like how his Dreams and Visions are shown. He does not know who his real father was or his mother. There are many surprises in the box for him, and dilema's.
Liath and her father have been running away from place to place since her mother was killed 8 years ago. she has knowledge which cannot whatever the matter been put into the wrong hands. Her story line at the begining is a bit too slow, though near the end gets much more interesting.
The characters in the book are superbly worked out. The supporting characters are also well drafted. But the two main character's have there own destinies, but who can they trust with there secrets. I was hoping the two characters would end up meeting but they don't in this one. The only downside to the book is, it can be a bit too slow in certain parts of the book, which makes you want to skip some pages so its speed can pick up, but that way you may end up mising important information. The other problem about this book is, that it gets way too carried away with the religious stuff. Overall I really I liked this book, and have already order Prince of Dogs the follow on. The book finishes and you cannot guess which way the book will go next. I really wanted to give this book 4.5, but as I can't I gave it 5.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Liked Fantasy? Read This, 19 April 2002
An unlikely choice for me, Kings Dragon proved to be a good one. I have never read fantasy and was given this book but have to say it was spell-binding. I was on Liath's side from the beginning, hated Hugh, fell in love with Sanglant, hoped for Alain and was intrigued by Wolfhere, Rosvita and many others. The politics and infighting in this story gave it a realistic feel and the number and calibre of characters give it good pace. Bit too much scripture for my liking but I have gone on to read the 2nd and 3rd in the series aswell as Jaran (which I also consider to be excellent) ... Not bad for a Fantasy Virgin.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling and superbly crafted character driven fantasy., 12 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Set in an alter- mediaeval middle europe, this book carefully, clearly (and slowly!) crafts a society on the cusp of profound change, beset by sinister external forces, schism and the dark shadows of a long fallen golden empire.
Into this volatile setting are pitched a trio of young protaganists , each in turn wrestling with their inheritances, characters and destinies. Their struggles to come to terms with themselves mirror, and influence, the unfolding disintegration of their kingdom and the unfolding of a new order.
Well, OK, pretty standard fantasy fodder in outline. But, the leading characters are rounded out and well differentiated, the supporting cast crisply portrayed, the matriachal society and religion lovingly (if a little too, sometimes) detailed and the monsters, magic and violence sparingly and effectively deployed.
What it all adds up to is a book, like early Modesitt, Donaldson, or perhaps most closely, the Fionovar trilogy, that portrays an almost tactile sense of living in a profoundly different world; it draws you in and leaves you craving more. In fact, I'm off the buy the follow up (Prince of Dogs) on Amazon right now.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crown of Stars Series, 25 May 2003
This is another one of my faves. The story spans 6 huge books-the last of whch has not yet been published. King's Dragon was extremely good and the only reason it didn't get 5 stars from me was because it was so long and descriptive that it was hard to read for long peiods of time. However if you like a series where the author manages to write a large number of subplots and lets you make the links between them to realise what is happening-then Elliot is the author for you. I have actually been awed at her prowess at being able to link everything in so many subtle ways to ultimately form an intricate story that keeps you on your toes. Not for the lazy minded readers who like to have the story spelled out for them-this one makes you think
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading!, 28 July 2001
By A Customer
Kings Dragon is the first in a series of five or maybe six books. It is set in around 727AD in the kingdoms of Wendar and Varre ruled by King Henry. The area is continually being raided by the Eika, a group of people from the northern part of the world. The story follows two main characters Alain and Liath. Alain is a fostered child living in a small village called Osna, and, when he reaches the age of sixteen he has to go to the local moastory to become a monk. He lives with his foster father called Henri and Aunt Belle. Alain desperatly wants to go and explore the world before he gets put in the monastry, but he is not allowed. On his journey to the monastory an Eika raid occurs and the monastory gets burnt down, but then Alain has a vision of the Lady of Battles and to prevent Osna getting attacked he swears to serve her. Liath lives in Hearts Rest another small village in Henry's kingdom. Her story is quite different. She has been running with her Da for several years ever since her mother was murdered, and they have been at Hearts Rest for two years now. Liath is very attractive, despite her dark skin and has a horrible feeling that the Frater Hugh is not just looking at her as one of the local people. She is worried for her Da because Frater Hugh is becoming a little too interested in what they are doing, studying the stars or as some people would say studying the art of the mathmatici. The plot follows the Fate of Liath and Alain and introduces some other vital characters along the way.
The beginning of the book seemed a bit slow and boring to me, but once you'd got over the meet and greet of the characters the story began to take off. Some patches were a bit tedious, but all in all I could not put the book down. I have literally been reading the series non stop for the last few weeks, so its definitly a series you need to put aside some time to read. I strongly advise everyone to at least try reading it and see what you think! I'm sure you will be as wrapped with it as I was (and still am!)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great opener to a great series., 1 Feb 2003
This is an engrossing read. There are a number of different story strands which, I presume, will gradually come together as the series progresses. We are introduced to Alain, Liath and Sanglant in a war torn kingdom with a believable religious system. The enemy are suitably unfathomable as yet and there are exciting hints of mysteries which will be solved in the following books. It is good and long which suits me with plenty of meaty ideas to ponder.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Start to the series...., 8 Jan 2010
By 
M. Bowes (South West England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
....But room (rather no room) for improvement.

What I mean by that is this book (and series) on a whole is very good, the two protagonists Liath and Alain, and the secondary characters weave and intertwine throughout the books to create an intricate and detailed story. However there comes a point when all the detail is adding too much unnecessary filling which is getting in the way. I sometimes found myself reading a chapter and thinking, out of the 20-30 pages all I needed to know to move the story on was that one paragraph in the middle. I understand that setting the scene is an integral part of storytelling but at times it just seemed over the top.

A good start to a series which builds as it goes, but be prepared to invest some time getting to the heart of it. (***1/2)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My review for the whole series, 8 Dec 2008
By 
dangermash (Hartlip, Kent) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think that there was a good story underlying this series, but I can't say that I enjoyed reading it. Call me a Philistine but I think books should be a pleasure to read - not just a challenge. For a seven book series to be a pleasure and not a challenge, the author needs to make it easy to read. And that's where old Katie falls down.

First, there was the arcane Shakesperian dialogue. At first this was a neat touch. By the end it was looking like a howling blunder. What it did was it made the book a struggle to read. Contrast this with (say) David Gemmell, Geroge Martin or (outside fantasy) Paul Auster. They're authors whose work glides down like honey. I can get through pages and pages of their work without getting tired. without finding my mind drifting onto other things.

Second, I don't have a brain the size of a planet. My paranoia is where the Marvin resemblance ends. With a series as big as this, I expect to have a cast list at the back of every volume (not just volume 6!) and I expect a recap at the start of volumes 2-7. Even if I'm reading the novels in succession, because of the way my mind's drifting, it's comforting just to have the author confirm to you that you took in the whole story and didn't miss something important.

Third, with multiple story lines, it's good to make it more clear to the reder who we're talking about. George Marin had the great idea of having the name of the viewpoint character in big letters at the start of each chapter and it would have been great if Kate could have copied this. That's a WIBNI - "wouldn't it be nice if". Not a big issue. What I found unforgivable was when the first couple of pages of a chapter didn't mention the names of the people involved. He did this, she did that, etc. I found myself having to look ahead to find who we were talking about before I could read any further.

As for individual books,
Volume 1 was quite good - 4 stars
Volume 2 was still OK - 3 stars
Volumes 3 and 4 really dragged - 2 stars
Volume 5 actually had things happening in it - 3 stars
Volume 6 was back to normal - 2 stars
Volume 7 had to have things happening really but was dull - 3 stars
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews