on 30 March 2015
A very different and thoughtful epic – epic in the sense that these are grand themes of faith, the existence of gods, the interpretation of doctrines, and earth-shattering schisms. Strauss sets up her pieces slowly and deliberately, and gives us the opportunity to see the approaching storm from both sides, both of which is “right”, and neither of which is “wrong”. Her characters are driven by internal desperation and soul searching as much as external events, their own revelations and conclusions as terrifying as any battle or sudden betrayal. But Strauss does not shy from showing the blood and guts of a war based on religion, the way that faith and doctrine can always conveniently manage to justify the slaughter of innocents. By the end of the book I was thoroughly invested in the world and in Gyalo and Axane's struggles and I need to know how it all ends!
on 1 March 2005
A discreet young priest, Gyalo, is instructed to lead a mission across the Burning Land, a vast desert, in search of a lost colony. But the truth he finds upon his journey will set the church upon the path to a Holy War...
If anyone ever tells you that all fantasy novels are mindless entertainment, then you should give them a copy of 'The Burning Land'. This is the most intelligent fantasy I've read in years, containing possibly the most complete and convincing portayal of a religion that I've ever come across in the genre. The book is beautifully written, full of subtlety and uncertainty, symbols and portents and betrayals.
Much of the action is psychological or philosophical, but don't let that put you off. I normally prefer light escapist fantasy rather than serious works, but I found myself drawn in by the strong characterisation and the unpredictable nature of the plot. Definitely worth reading if you like your fantasy intelligent and complex.
on 24 March 2016
I was hoping for something a bit more 'imaginative'. It started off pretty OK but quickly turned into boring drivel. Given the price, I was expecting a bit more from the author, especially given her writing experience. I do not recommend this book.