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The Weavers Of Saramyr: Book One of the Braided Path: Weavers of Saramyr Bk. 1 (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Hardcover – 15 May 2003
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With The Weavers of Saramyr, Chris Wooding begins his first adult fantasy trilogy, "The Braided Path". His previous work, most notably the Silver Smarties Award-winner The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (2001), was published for younger readers.
Here the fantasy empire ruling the land of Saramyr has an oriental flavour, a level of technology that allows rifles and bombs and a communications system relying on magic--the sorcery of the dreaded, masked Weavers. By manipulating the magical Weave of the world, a kind of fantasy cyberspace, Weavers can not only send messages over any distance but manipulate minds, fight intangibly and kill. They are incidentally made rotted and cancerous by their masks, and have revolting habits such as raping and killing small children. Make no mistake, these are the bad guys.
All other forms of magic talent are denounced as Aberrant and the talent-owners condemned to death. Rebellion brews among the Empire's people and powerful noble factions when it emerges that the Heir-Empress Lucia is Aberrant, with gentle powers of communication with birds and earth-spirits. Meanwhile another girl, Kaiku, is orphaned when her family is both poisoned by an unknown hand and attacked by "shin-shin" demons. Kaiku soon finds that she herself is dangerously Aberrant, apt to send out waves of uncontrollable fire. Kaiku makes a quixotic journey with unusual companions, and, by use of the mask that is her sole inheritance, enters a protected place to discover the grim secret of what's slowly poisoning the land. It is not, as the Weavers insist, the existence of Aberrants. Kaiku and her friends join the Red Order, a sisterhood of trained Aberrants, in a desperate effort to save Lucia from the general bloodshed of the inevitable Imperial coup. Many characters fail to survive for the backlash expected in volume two.
Although Chris Wooding overdoes the repulsiveness of the Weavers themselves--nightmare caricatures rather than plausible villains--his talent for atmosphere and description makes this a memorably intense, exotic adult-fantasy debut. --David Langford
Written by young publishing phenomenon Chris Wooding, "The Braided Path" is a dark, manga-influenced fantasy of a terrifying world a world across which plays a spellbinding plot of power, violence, and betrayal. Still in his twenties, Chris Wooding has published 18 books, including the Broken Sky series, which has sold more than 200,000 copies in the U.S. alone. He is also a winner of Britain s prestigious Silver Smarties Prize for his acclaimed novel, "The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray," which he is now adapting for a Hollywood film." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
To be honest I doubt I will be back for part two of the series. Although the Weavers of Saramyr shows Wooding's capacity for invention and flights of fantasy to good effect I found the plot less than compelling and it took me a long time to finish the book for that reason. Whilst Saramyr is an interesting, original fusion of quasi-oriental cultural influences, European-style dynastic politics from the 14th or 15th Century and nature focused mysticism the central story of Kaiku, Tane, Amara and the others never really grabbed me. It seemed to ramble without much direction during the first half of what is not a short book; so much so that by the time their quest did seem to gain some forward momentum in the final third the book had squandered much of my initial good will. By contrast I found the political machinations and intrigues far more interesting and gripping, but this element of the story felt rushed and short changed by the need to return to Kaiku, et al.
By the time the book reached what I found to be a rather deus ex machina conclusion I really didn't care that greatly about the overall outcome of the story. Certainly not enough to want to pick up the next volume in the series. Saramyr might have been a colourful, fantastical yet also believable world but it also deserved a more compelling, better paced and tighter focused story to show it off. I will just have to wait for the publication of The Iron Jackal, the next Ketty Jay Adventure.
Whenever you start a new fantasy series you find out quite quickly which of the cliched magic conduits the author has settled on, whether it be a ring, a sword, a staff or simply the will and the word. In this case, Wooding has provided a new concept. Magic through masks, or True Masks. The older they are the more powerful they become as they steal the personalities and skills of their previous owners (unfortunately, an image of Jim Carrey cannot help but come to mind). Into this mix is the general populace fear of Aberrants (think X-Men) and a ripe political situation as the Empress Anais' daughter, Lucia, is discovered to be such an Aberrant. Whilst dynastic problems (and a boor of a husband) assail the Empress and we're on the cusp of civil war, a young woman named Kaiku is brought back from death by her maidservant Asara to find her family destroyed by Shin-Shin. With her own mask in hand (as her only family legacy) she eventually settles on the first stage of a personal quest to avenge her family journeying with Asara and the monk, Tane, to the hidden monastery where the witch stones that blight the land and give the weavers power are hidden. Her personal trials and epiphany are played against a backdrop of a group of Aberrants dedicated to encouraging the skills of those so gifted and eventually formulating a plan to kidnap the Heir-Empress to save her from those who would see her murdered.
Whilst Anais and her husband, Durun, deal with a rampaging capital city and civil war through their streets, the select band enter the city sewers to take the Heir-Empress as the ordered world of Blood Erinima collapses into civil strife. As both enemy and friend fall in the climatic chapters, Kaiku learns more of her destiny and Wooding achieves much in bringing a sense of hope and danger to a wrold shifting in its grap on power.
I found this a superb fantasy novel, if a trifle lacking in depth occasionally as the author forced plot upon us at a speed that seemed to not give the full consideration and build up it deserved. Several potential earth shattering revelations were thrown in glibly which could have benefited from a few more chapters built around them. Still, it did not detract too much as characterisation and descriptive acumen wove a tightly narrated tale that promised much and delivered often. For this reader, at least, the Skein of Lament will be eagerly sought after.