The Silver Lake (Warriors of Estavia) Mass Market Paperback – 6 Feb 2007
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Fresh and interesting...I look forward to the next. (Science Fiction Chronicle)Fluidly paced fantasy adventure. (Library Journal) Fantastic fantasy filled with action [and] intrigue...refreshingly original. (Midwest Book Review)
About the Author
Fiona Patton lives on seventy-five acres of rural Ontario scrubland with her partner Tanya Huff, six cats, and one tiny little dog. She has written more than twenty short stories ranging from heroic fantasy to horror to science fiction, as well as fantasy novels The Stone Prince, The Painter Knight, The Granite Shield, and The Golden Sword.
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This series uses a fair number of capitalized and made-up words, which in many authors' hands is a sign of a not-so-good book, but Fiona Patton uses them the way they should be used. Every capitalized word feels like something the characters in the book would consider a proper term in need of capitalization. Every made-up word represents a concept that is easier to discuss and use within the story if it's referred to with one word, and that doesn't have a good immediate analogue in the English language. For instance, familial and working relationships are very different in Anavatan than they are here, and are highly intertwined. The use of specific terms for these different relationships helps the reader to become better immersed within the story world.
Fiona delves so deeply into her world of gods and relationships that this book could have been primarily a theoretical discourse on theology and relationships and the links between them and I still would have found it fascinating. She then also turns it into a pulse-pounding adventure with deadly battles from the smallest knife-fight to an entire raid on a village, and whole nations pitted against each other. She seamlessly stretches levels of head-twisting theory onto a solid framework of peril, love, and hatred.
If you pick up one series this year, let it be this one.
The formatting is also very poor. The book shifts in and out of italics when it isn't intended, quotation marks, commas, and periods may also be missing. This isn't for the entire book, but there are at least two sections in the Kindle version where the paragraphs become gibberish, and several random instances where punctuation is missing and entire sections shift in and out of italics.
As for the book itself, the story is good, but the book uses several made up words as substitutions for normal terms: Temple, lover/partner, guardian, child, sibling, etc. Many of these terms are never explained and the writer even goes so far as to use them in various tenses and forms, which adds greater confusion to the reader. There are areas of the book that are so heavy with made up words, you might as well be reading it in another language.
The story itself is actually pretty good, but there are some very large errors in formatting when it comes to the Kindle Version, and the book itself could have used a bit more editing for clarity's sake.
Sadly, I don't think I'll be continuing this series.
And yet there are so many things to be liked.
This new serial by Ms Patton is explicitly set in an Instambul-like town surrounded by foes who closely resemble Greeks, Slavs and (turkish?) nomadic tribes. Even the book cover and dedication confirm this.
Instead of the expected Islam-like religion (and despite ever present towers strongly resembling minarets) the author prefers to introduce sort of an animistic one, administrated by shamans (called wyrdin, seers and many other names) who try to control an immense variety of spirits of unknown origin for a variety of reasons, including theft, warfare and religious fanatism.
Six of these spirits have infact touched the waters of the lake, an immense reservoir of mystical power, becoming actual, powerful (but not allmighty) gods.
One may also add that Ms Patton has developped further some ideas about society previously found in her Branion series.
In this new world of hers there are men, women and bigenders (these last sometimes able to shift from one extreme to the other of their sexuality, seemingly at will), all perfectly equal and equally strong (two of the six gods are bigender).
If gender is irrelevant, sexual orientation is a non issue (two important side character, Kemal and Yashar, are well respected soldiers and are in a passionate long term relationship without anyone having anything to say about it, not even their female goddess).
Our traditional roles are deliberately annihilated: as in the Branion series honorifics are grammatically invariable and the two goddesses are therefore called "god".
Ms Patton goes further though: if family is the basic cell of this society too, the twist is that the gender of the couple is irrelevant, that there might be no couple at all but just one person, that children love as "parent(s)" the person(s) who take(s) care of them and may be unrelated to them by blood.
All the above is very interesting and refreshing, the writing is to the point and proficient, the plot is well developped (some minor inconsistencies as well as a couple of typos are probably due to the editor), the characters are potentially interesting and yet all this never comes to life.
I was always left cold, the characters likeable but never really alive and I never could relate to them.
Possibly all this mumbling about prophecies, alternative futures, all these vague plot threads to be tied did not help me to get involved: quite a basic flaw in any fantasy novel.