Top critical review
A very different book to Incarnate
on 3 July 2014
I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy, Incarnate, even though I was a bit surprised to find that it was 80% romance and 20% plot. It had a tone and style very reminiscent of Sharon Shinn, and that's a big compliment as Shinn is pretty unique.
Asunder is a different type of book. There are plenty of references to Ana and Sam's relationship but it is oddly dysfunctional, as they seem to have gone backwards since their mutual understanding and chemistry in Incarnate, for no apparent reason. It was also rather puzzling that Sam would suddenly realise that there's a 5,000-year age gap, and more to the point react pretty badly when his best friend points this out. I was hoping that Ana would then kick him, walk out, or otherwise have a go at him for it, but she only does that, eventually, for about a minute *sighs*. As a result, Sam seemed rather weak and vascillating compared to the previous book and Ana was, at times, annoying.
Relationships in general were a bit of an issue, as it seems that plenty must have happened 'off-camera' since Incarnate as Ana is now best friends with a whole host of people who haven't really figured to date. It was hard to distinguish between the friends' characters (especially as so many of them are apparently in love with Sam) and indeed the rulers' characters. Rather summed up by finding that one of these friends who is keen to have Ana at the birth of her baby turns out to have been in a relationship with another friend (who is the father of the baby), but Ana didn't know about it and doesn't seem to think it was odd that she didn't know about it. But then there is also some clunky dialogue between Sam and Ana that suggests she doesn't know about the birds and the bees, Sam doesn't want to tell her, and Ana seems spectacularly uncurious about it.
The plot surrounding Janan, the god-like figure, trickles through the book to a climax in the rather excitingly-described temple at the end. The visual images created here are the strongest and most unique aspect of this series so far. I struggled a bit to understand what happened - or rather why - but I hope this sets the series up for a much better third and final book.
I will be reading the last book as I bought it at the same time as this one. I actually don't think I would have done if I hadn't already got it, as the characterisation was as serious a problem as I've ever come across in a book. It gets three stars rather than two because the fantasy plot elements merit a four, and the character relationships a two, averaging out as three.