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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 March 1999
After reading some other reviewers' comments, I had to stop and think about their criticisms of the book. While I agree with their comments concerning character development, I found this book to be one of the more enjoyable fantasies I've read in a good while, and I've read quite a few including Jordan's Wheel of Time, Edding's Belgariad/Mallorean, Feist's Magician: series, Goodkind's Sword of Truth, Hambly's Darwath Trilogy, Reichert's Last of the Renshai and J V Jone's Book of Words series, all of which I recommend. Lord of the Isles is a quick read with relatively short chapters, each with a nice little punch at the end. When the characters split up and have separate adventures, the chapters rotate to follow each story simultaneously. I had no trouble following the story or keeping track of who's who. The chapters are often left as cliffhangers, but all the plots are excellent and the shorter chapters don't leave you hanging a long time to find out "what happened to..?". There is very little fat or excess commentary in this book. The magic is pretty mundane in theory and practice, but the narration of effects usually make up for it. If you are looking for a deep, thought provoking book you might want to skip this one, but if you are looking for a page turner with some neat variations to the usual encounters in fantasy, I highly recommend it.
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on 30 July 1999
I was originally drawn to this book by the many commendations from SF authors I enjoy. The cover art should be enough to put off most folk (unless interested in S&M fetish). The style is slightly off-putting. Not in a poor way, but in putting you off your guard for what is coming. Really quite refreshing. The characters are realistic, the language used, engaging. The only part of his style I was not taken with was his perception of magic - there was simply too much of it. I do recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Stephen Donaldson.
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on 1 May 2013
I was so excited when I discovered magnificent writer David Drake, who appeared within the fantasy genre with a refreshingly new fantasy epic as to rival many top writers. Similarly to stand-out authors like Robert Jordan, who is a master of heroic fantasy, or Terry Goodkind whose phenomenal imagination and power is simply mind-blowing Drake stands equally alongside them. This inspired work of creativity and individuality is breathtaking and which is certainly one of the finest epic fantasies of the decade ~ to date. I was utterly enchanted by the extensive world-building, the engrossing saga and magnitude of this creation which I envisage as a very detailed, lengthy story.

Unlike most modern fantasy, David Drake's Lord of the Isles contains such thrilling action and exquisite multi-layered texture it is truly wonderful. If you are looking for something with memorable, well-rounded characters that propel the story forwards and who are likeable then look no further ~ Lord of the Isles has it all! From treacherous Queens to faithful and faithless courtiers, peasants and shepherds who are more than they seem, wizardry and magic alongside your heroes and heroines. This powerfully evocative tale beautifully blends vivid characterization with spectacular imagery and intensely gripping action, as to have you glued to the pages entranced...

The epic adventure begins in book one, which is filled with magic and passion set within an extraordinarily rich world where the elemental forces begin to stir. Survivors of such an event include Tenoctris; a sorceress swept out of the past as her civilization sank beneath the sea, and the ghost of a great ruler King Carus of the Isles, together with a magician (the hooded one) who was the sole reason for this catastrophe.

Reminiscent of Kate Elliot's Crown of Stars series, this is a mighty tale in which heroes are created and evil is fought against. Drake's take on magic is wonderfully complex in this ambitious work, and his settings and magical creatures provide such drama and surprise to make it quite colorful. This substantial fantasy, in which moral and physical threats are serious and wherein actions have consequences, will appeal to those who delight in mythological works. (i.e JRR Tolkien or Arthur for example).
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on 17 September 1998
This is the first book by David Drake I've ever read, and, unfortunately, it will probably be the last. Equally as unfortunate is that I can now no longer trust the judgments of the prominent authors (Piers Anthony, Stephen R. Donaldson, and Terry Goodkind) who gave the glowing reviews that appear in the book and on the cover. As I now re-read their words, I have to wonder we were reading the same story. "Lord of the Isles" can't even come close to the simple poetry of Anthony, the supple plotting of Donaldson, or the heart-pounding action of Goodkind. The book I read had almost no background, no semblence of plot, no cohesive elements of time, and almost no explanation of who the characters were, what they were doing, or why they were doing it. Sometimes the character's conversations with each other didn't make any sense. Sure, there are two or three decent action sequences, but the rest of the plot suffers from the obvious (and silly) contrivances of an author scrambling to get all of his characters to "coincidentally" reuinte. I kept wanting to put the book down and never look back, but I thought I'd give it the benefit of the doubt. By the time I got to the end, I was skipping 5, 8, 10 pages at time, and subsequently realized that I should have saved myself the time. I don't know what book those other authors were recommending, but it couldn't have been "Lord of the Isles."
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on 22 June 1999
The book had a decent plot but I just could not get into it. I did not sense any threat to the HOODED ONE nor any threat to the characters except for the random creatures that attack them out of nowhere. This is a problem for me since I thought the main thrust of the book was the battle against... the HOODED ONE and I just could not take him seriously. The main thing I did not like was the characters. For some reason they came about as really snotty, and obnoxious even the never-made-any-mistakes-always-saves-the-day Nonas. I really spent a majority of the book hoping for them to encounter something that they might find even remotely challenging but again there is no sense of threat, they beat the odds all the time with little or no difficulty (except when Nonas was there to spring them). They all seemed a little too holier than thou to me, always saying how discusting this guy is or that guy is. I really wanted all the characters to die and die horribly. there were a few interesting points in the story though they were far and few between. The wizard chants were interesting. I planned to memorize them and chant them to annoy people but I returned the book.
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on 16 September 1998
With some shining exceptions, most fantasy books that I have read place cardboard characters against a canvas background: the only living parts of such books are the fast-placed plots. This book is different. The author has woven a world with hints of the ancient and medieval Mediterranean world, one that is very believable beyond the stage on which the characters act. It is refreshing to read a book in a world that might actually exist.
In addition, the younger characters actually seem to ask advice from the more experienced characters -- any brash young character who ignores advice, usually does so at his or her own peril. Who would have thought that such a common sense approach has a place in a fantasy world? For me, it works.
Well-crafted world; common-sense characters . . . it's a refreshing change from the sword, brawn, and numbskull routine. The plot is, however a little slow and unfocused: like the dancing fragments of a stained-glass window which never quite fall into place.
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on 14 September 1998
I enjoyed this book, and will definitely read the sequel, but not until its out in paperback. I suppose I was expecting more, since its had so many glowing reviews. I definitely don't concider myself a Jordanite, but I still found Jordan's writing more interesting, his world more creative, and I much prefer magic that's explained instead of "they just do it." Drake's tale started to lose cohesion towards the end (how did Tenoctris know about everyone's paternity?). And as another reviewer pointed out, Tenoctris always complained about every other wizard not knowing what they were doing, but she never tried to tell them what to do. Did it have to do with blood, which every wizard used, but Tenoctris never did? By the end of the book, you know that any wizardy worked by anyone (other than Tenoctris, of course) will end up making things worse. Still, it is an interesting, if not entirely original, multiverse that Drake's created. Maybe things will get more exciting in the next book.
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on 6 March 1999
For the most part, I agree with previous comments made on the characters being pathetically flat. Liane seems to have absolutely no purpose but to meander about. The main point I have to make is that no one is the slightest bit curious. Garric takes anything and everything Tenoctris says as the simple fact and never questions. Magic seems to be convenient to plot. There are no rules and no consistancy. One moment Tenoctris can't do a thing without some type of twig, next thing we know she is taking Garric to another dimension without having to chant as previously required. These could all be accepted if someone would simply question. Does Garric, some sort of scholar as a child, hold absolutely no curiosity? Furthermore, it seems that Mr Drake wrote the last twenty pages, and then wrote backwards to get his charcter there. I understand Mr Drake is an excellent Sci-Fi author, but I believe his concepts of fantasy do need sharpening.
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on 9 June 1999
I am sick and tired of the pages and pages of boring garbage some fantasy writers fill their books with. The "Hero" of the story sit and whines and complains about the task given to him/her by fate and refuses to use the "gift" given to them. The heroes in "The Lord Of The Isles" are good old fashioned hack and slash type who spend more time doing heroic deeds than thinking about them. They accept who they are and what they are without pages of pseudo psycho claptrap. The people who claim this makes them one dimensional are too rigid in their thinking. The plot is rich with sub stories that will make you want to read the second installment as quick as possible. Action all the way through. You don't have to wade through 700 pages of nothing to reach 20 pages of action like Jordan's books. I like all sort of sci-fi and fantasy, Anybody who wants real heroes will enjoy this book!
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on 11 July 1999
Despire all the recommendations on the cover of the book, I have a great deal of trouble praising Lord of the Isles. The characters seems to never truly be in danger or risk, sometimes passing what Drake sets up as a huge challenge or obstacle, only to breeze by it in a few pages. I did like the Isles concept and some of Isles left many questions unanswered, such as why would they use inches and miles in an imaginary world? Wouldn't they have their own units of measurements. Not to mention Oaks, Hickory and other American trees. Please get creative. How do all the main characters like Garric have magic abilities and so on, while few others do? Drake needs to explain things instead of making it all too convient for the main characters to all have magic ability, while everyone else is a farmer. I'm glad I borrowed this book from the library and didn't shell out my own money for it.
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