Top positive review
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Classic fantasty, beautifully written with engaging characters
on 7 January 2014
This is presented in fairly standard classical fantasy-land - horses for transport, candles for light, swords for weapons, kings who actually rule, castles and taverns, non-standard names - oh and dragons! All well done, and beautifully described - the scene setting is wonderful. I did miss a map though, several countries and rulers, an emperor and an invader are all introduced early on and I struggled to remember who ruled where and what their significance was.
The blurb does the book no favours - young prince chosen for a magical task, meets beautiful young commoner with magical abilities of her own, they fall in lurve, and the future of mankind rests on their young shoulders... Mmmm - true to a tiny point, but this is much deeper, much... more! For a start our hero is 25 - not a youth, and our heroine an educated, intelligent, 20 year old (yeah, yeah, so she's breathtakingly beautiful, but she's refreshingly unaware of that fact).
Corin is the only prince of Caithen. Bad things are looming, allies are failing to step up to the mark, and Caithen's ruler is feeling somewhat exposed. In the midst of this, Corin is battling with inexplicable memory lapses, an inability to talk about certain topics, his father's dog suddenly attacking him, and other odd occurrences. Then he meets Tam - literally bumps into her, and both are instantly smitten. No fool, she knows what being courted by royalty means for a commoner, but she accepts his invitation to dinner any way...
The fist quarter is setting up and just as I was beginning to think get on with it, it got on and became gripping and things move along briskly. Corin's strange mental shift are explained, and Tam acquires some odd abilities of her own - question is, are they both being manipulated to another's end? And can they do anything about it if they are - or do they even want to?
There are some pretty important supporting characters who generally stay rather remote - they contribute to their scenes then go - not people we learn about in any depth, and there are the dragons - seeking their freedom and with no humanity or compassion about them.
Corin and Tam are a fine pair to carry to story - they're principled and intelligent and in love - I'm not giving much away by that. Their love is a strong constant through most of the book - this isn't a romance with pitfalls and conflict thrown in to trip up the love story. There's plenty going on without needing that. The author lets her characters fall for each other, and then stay smitten, supporting each other all the way.
So, at some levels this is classic, classical fantasy. But that isn't enough of a descriptin. The author at the end thanks Jane Austen, " whose language I liberally borrowed." so that should give some idea of the style of writing here - it's nicely descriptive - for example:
"Her name is Alina. Her father is a baron in Kariss."
Kariss. Farmland, but poor soil.
Sort of dooms poor Alina doesn't it?!
I enjoyed this, will read it again, and would love to hear the audiobook version, if there ever is one. The language here is something to be taken slowly and I'm a bolt-reader. Well worth trying.