Top positive review
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A wonderful and inventive book
on 11 October 2012
When you miss your station on the daily commute because you've got your head totally buried in your Kindle, you know the book you're reading is a good one. With its bitesize chapters, inventive ideas, easy-to-read prose and flowing storyline, Enchantress is such a book, and I can highly recommend it.
Sometimes fantasy books can be a bit of a slog (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, I loved you, but yeah, I'm looking at you). Enchantress isn't one of them; the style is more like early Raymond Feist than Shakespeare, and it's all the better for it. Instead of unnessarily long sentences and pages of meandering text, you get a very readable mix of brilliantly inventive ideas, believable characters and a storyline that takes in all sorts of fantasy stalwarts, from quests and battles to woodland folk and murky cityscapes. This is also one of the first fantasy books I've read that contains believable sex scenes; at last, a fantasy author who sounds like he's actually tried it. Bravo! :-)
The book's real strength is the way all the ideas fit together to produce a convincing and immersive world. The book's concept of magic (or 'lore' as it's called) is a great device for generating plot twists, and merging the battle scenes with lore in the form of bladesingers, animators, enchanters and elementalists makes for entertaining reading. Indeed, lore threads its way through the entire plot, from the lethal effects of essence, to the relationship between lore, lexicons and the evil plot at the centre of the book. As you read on, you discover more and more about this well-crafted world, and it's enchanting stuff, if you'll pardon the pun.
I also loved the little quotes at the start of each chapter (all 73 of them!). They range from historical quotes to pearls of wisdom, and while in some books this kind of writing device can be a little irritating and bit twee, I thought they really added to the atmosphere of this one. In particular, the quotes from the Marco-Polo-esque Toro Marossa are great, and even though Marossa isn't mentioned in the book itself, I found myself rather liking the man - and all that from a few snippets of commentary at the start of a handful of chapters. It's all very clever, and it's the myriad little touches like this that make the world of Enchantress so believable.
[Edit: The latest version of the book addresses most of the issues I mention in the next paragraph - there is now an excellent map at the start of the book, and the typos have been cleaned up. It's good to see that the author responds to feedback - bravo.]
If I'm going to nit-pick, I did get lost trying to work out the geography of the world. When setting the scenes for the war that grumbles to life in the first third of the book, I got totally confused about which house was fighting which, and whose borders were to the north of the forts that seemed to be to the west of the... oh never mind. In the end I gave up trying to picture the world's layout and just went with the flow, and although it didn't affect my enjoyment one bit, I did find myself hankering for a map. The Table of Contents is also next to useless, only containing links to the Prologue and Epilogue, and typographically there are some small hiccups (hyphens and en-dashes get a bit mixed up every now and then, and there's the odd wonky apostrophe and incorrect word that the spellchecker clearly got wrong). But this really is me being picky, as trivial things like this disappear in a puff of lore when faced with such a great story.
Like others here, I'm looking forward to the sequel, as the book finishes a little too abruptly and leaves a number of quesions unanswered. Which is the point, I suppose; this is Book One of a Saga, and you've got to leave the reader wanting more... which I do.
Bring on Book Two, I say. Highly recommended.