Karavans Mass Market Paperback – 3 Apr 2007
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"Roberson is without doubt one of today's most powerful voices in fantasy fiction."
A story of epic proportions. ( Publishers Weekly )
Roberson is without doubt one of today's most powerful voices in fantasy fiction. ("Rave Reviews")
A story of epic proportions. ("Publishers Weekly")
Roberson is without doubt one of today's most powerful voices in fantasy fiction. ("Rave Reviews")
A story of epic proportions. (Publishers Weekly)
Roberson is without doubt one of today's most powerful voices in fantasy fiction. (Rave Reviews)
About the Author
Jennifer Roberson is the author of the Sword-Dancer Saga and the Chronicles of the Cheysuli, and collaborated with Melanie Rawn and Kate Elliott on the historical fantasy The Golden Key, a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. She has also published three historical novels, and several in other genres. An exhibitor and breeder of Cardigan Welsh Corgis, she lives on acreage in Northern Arizona with eight dogs and two cats. She is currently working on the third Karavans novel, with prologue available at her website, http: //www.cheysuli.com/author/Index.html.
Top customer reviews
We get introduced to all the main characters at the start, instead of learning about them as the caravan travels, which means that with all their back stories, resentments of overlords, seeking out of fortune telling, double crossing and hoping to bear a child in a better land, nothing happens for most of the book. Finally they get under way and at the end we get some action and some indication that everyone who enters the forest goes mad. Meanwhile a couple of strange people hover around the edges, who have several lives and can be killed many times. And other strange people as well, who are not properly explained but just like hanging around with humans.
Roberson previously wrote the Chronicles of the Cheysuli series about shapechangers, which grew in depth as it progressed and the Tiger and Del sword-dancer novels. I did like those, even if Tiger and Del spent too much time riding through the desert.
Anyway, back to the book - overall the book is quite slow to start but, then its introducing you to the characters and JR has a great way of weaving words and though it seems slow to begin with its so descriptive that you really build a great world in your mind, if you have ever read (and loved!) Cecelia Dart-Thornton you will know what I mean.
One of the main characters is Audrun, an expectant mother she has to take risks to give birth to her magical child somewhere much safer. Alisanos is a place where Demons live and if any humans vebture there they are captured.
Davyn is the husband of Audrun and he leaves to talk to Jorda (Jorda is the master of the last Karavan opf the season), Rhuan is a guide for Jorda's Karavan and Rhuan is a from the Shoia people, they are people who can rise from the dead six times.
There are many people to be introduced to and to learn about which is why if your not into descriptive fantasies this is probably not one you would enjoy as there is little in the way of action but, I think this is a pre-cursor for the coming books.
I really enjoyed this I love descriptive fantasies so if this is one of JR's weaker books sounds like the others will be brilliant!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The lead characters, Rhuan, the hesitant god, and Ilona, the fortuneteller, are immediately likeable. Their undertaking is to help a ragtag group of refugees in a caravan travel to safer territory after their land is conquered by a brutal warlord. They gather in a wary settlement to wait for Jorda, a caravan master to lead them. A late addition to the caravan is the beleaguered refugee family of Davyn, his pregnant wife, Audrun, and their four children. The settlers often gather in a make-shift tavern, where Mikal, the kindhearted bartender holds court. The rest of the cast is rounded out by a bitter and derisive god-to-be, Brodhi, who disguises himself as a part of a group of couriers to the “humans” he’s forced to live with. Brodhi and Rhuan have secretly come from a magical land called Alisanos, which is (rightfully) feared and avoided by the human settlers. Alisanos, with all of its denizens of evil, is alive and moves without warning to swallow anyone unfortunate enough to be in its path. Few survive or return from this Darkwood, but the ones who do return horribly mutated or mad. And Alisanos is coming.
I though some of the characters in this first book required a little more development, although they do develop quite well in the second book. If I have any grumble, it is that, toward the end of the book, the storylines began jump around a little too fast. Within one chapter the story jumped from Ilona, to the settlers, to Brodhi, to Audrun- all in the space of seven pages. I imagine some authors use this as an effort to build excitement, but it seemed, to me, to disjoint the story a little much.
All in all, it’s well worth the time.
The plot of this book is actually several plots roller together, with a much larger plot line wrapped around everything. Some of the plot lines are mere hints at something larger, that will no doubt be talked about in future books such as the forest of Alisanos moving and creating a hazard for those unlucky enough to be in its path. The large over riding plot focuses of the forest and things that may be occurring within it, and too it. However, the true sense of things are not fully revealed until the very end of the novel. There are also several sub plots, some explored more than others of course. Things such as; a family trying to make a new life in a new region and the trials they face to make that happen, the relationships between multiple sets of characters, just who and what the Hecari are and what their purpose is, and the responsibilities of a karavan master and what he will go through to fulfill his duties. After finishing the novel, I was left with a couple thoughts on the overall story. First, it was well done, and I really enjoyed it. But, to be more specific, I was slightly disappointed that the novel felt more like a really long prologue than a true novel. To me, it seemed like there was more world building and setting up for future events then there was actual substance to the story. However, with that said, I didn't have a problem with it because it flowed together so well and the world building was done at such a high level. So, while the story may feel like it is mostly a setup to future novels it is none-the-less a fantastic read.
The characters in this novel are what originally drew me in. Even in the first short story the characters came alive and felt real. There are so many different characters in this book, each with their own feel. Such as voice, motivations, flaws, biases, etc. Some of the more memorable characters are; Rhuan, Ilona, Brodhi, Audrun, and Jorda to name but a few. Not only is the initial writing of the characters top notch, but almost every character in this novel has some degree of character development. Some more than others of course, but all the character development is significant in its own way. I can not think of any character that is the same at the end of the novel as they are at the end. Dialogue in this novel is something special. Some novel have great characters but the dialogue seems wooden and forced. In this novel the interactions between characters is so natural that you are drawn into the story more and more with each passing page. Very few books can make me so invested in a character, or two, but this book managed to do just that. While the story was build-up for future events, the characters were more than introduced to the reader. This is certainly a character driven novel, and Ms. Roberson pulls it off without a hitch.
A couple minor criticisms about the novel:
1 - As I mentioned above, I wish there would have been more `story' involved here. As it is, it seems that actual story elements don't really start occurring until 100-150 pages left in the book. Build--up is fine, but a better mixture may have made this book even better.
2 - I don't say this that often, there were a couple instances in the book where I almost felt that things were overly described. I enjoy novels that allow the reader to add some imagination to the setting. The author gives just enough detail so that the reader can get a general idea of the author's vision. However, at times in this novel, there are scenes where the reader is simply unable to do that because of the level of detail. It's not a huge issue, and may be a more personal bias on my part, but I think it's worth noting.
Some things I liked about this novel:
1 - The characters. As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed each and every character. They all brought out some type of reaction, liking them or hating them. Dialogue was near perfect, and they are just believable.
2 - World building. I can't say enough about the world building that took place here. It is quite evident that Ms. Roberson put a lot of time and effort to create such a rich and wonderful world.
3 - Lastly, the prose of this novel. It has a smooth gentle flow to it that allows the reader to turn page after page no matter what time it says on the clock. I liken it to rafting down a river without a paddle. The river takes you where it will but always in a general direction. Like wise, this novel has a general purpose and it is evident early on that the reader is merely along for the ride.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. So much in fact that I have already ordered book two. Based on my limited exposure to Ms. Roberson's work I have to say she seems to have a lot of potential. I may find the need to check out some of her other work as well. If you are a fan of character driven novels, with a healthy dose of suffering and intrigue then I strongly recommend this novel. I would encourage everyone to take a look at Ms. Roberson's website and read the short story. It gives an excellent taste of what you will find in this novel. I can easily see myself recommending this novel to many fans of the genre, both new fans and fans who have read numerous novels. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the second novel in this series.
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