A Time of War (Deverry Cycle Westlands 3) Mass Market Paperback – 4 Jul 2011
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About the Author
Katharine Kerr was born in Ohio and moved to San Francisco Bay Area in 1962, where she has lived ever since. She has read extensively in the fields of classical archeology, and medieval and dark ages history and literature, and these influences are clear in her work. Her epic Deverry series has won widespread praise and millions of fans around the world.
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So, I was disappointed in this book - I feel as though Kerr has lost her way a little. One of the high points of her first quartet is the fact that the storyline flits back and forth in time, deepening your affection for various characters in the different lives they have lived. Here, when she moves to a more linear storyline, I find myself less entranced.
Part of the problem is that I'm finding it hard now to care about ANY of the characters. In a previous review for an earlier book, I noted that Jill is far less likeable as a dweomermaster than as a silver dagger. The last character that I held deep regard for is Rhodry and in this book he seemed to descend into a unique kind of madness. He speaks often of courting his Lady Death and Kerr over-uses the beserker howl of laughter that had, up to now, been used effectively to build Rhodry's character.
I already didn't care for either Evandar or Dallandra, and here they crop up time and again in a very tedious storyline about Dallandra being kidnapped by Evandar's brother. All the time spent in Evandar's dreamlike homeland is slow and plodding and doesn't seem to advance the plot at all.
I would also like to complain that there were a number of scenes where Jill did etheric scrying, or changed into her falcon , which seemed lifted in their entirety from earlier books. There are only so many times I can read that without becoming bored.
I did like a number of aspects of the book. These included the touching scenes between Jill and Rhodry as they reached out in friendship and found a sort of reconciliation. Also, Kerr is extremely able at drawing distinctions between each of the different locations - in previous books, Bardek has been richly imagined; here we delve more into the homeland of the dwarves, which is given a very different feel to the other lands. Her world-building is on a more cosy scale than, say, the GRRM's of the world, but very effective nonetheless.
Despite the fact that the idea of a dragon is brought into the story in an abrupt manner (barring one brief paragraph two books ago), the introduction of Arzosah adds at least half a star to my rating. If you are as fond of decently-written dragon characters as I am, you will love Arzosah, who is both beautiful and slyly clever. The dialogue between her and Rhodry lends real vigour to the last part of the book.
This is a real lapse in form compared to the previous books, but I have high hopes of the last book in this quartet where a number of plot points should be resolved satisfactorily.
I do however have one reservation regarding this book: The introduction of a dragon. It may be a personal quirk on my part, but rarely have I found the active appearance of dragons in a tale either satisfying or credible. Often anthropomorphised in manner either typecast or silly - McCaffrey's romanticized and laughable wyrms are but the most notable examples - their inclusion as characters almost invariably fails to be convincing (At the risk of sacrilege I would include Tolkein's Smaug). Though the dragon here is present for only a few pages, it is apparant that it will play a large role in the next book, and it talks, which may not bode well for the conclusion of the series. Those of you who delight in clever wyrms, carry on. I will reserve final comment for completion of the next book.
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