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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 8 November 2008
This is a fantastic well written book with rich believable characters that you will care about and want to follow their exploits. It is the start of a triology that although written first is really the sequel to The Wolfblade triology. Both are set in an original and magical world that stays true to its own mythology.
I was lucky enough to find Wolfblade first because it would have spoilt my enjoyment of both triologies to know what happens to characters before I reached their part of story.
I thoroughly recommend these books. Once started you will find them difficult to put down. I hesitate to say too much about the story as it will give the plot (or one of them - there are many and intrically woven)away. It is an epic fantasy containing schemes,murders,gods,wars,love and magic! Happy reading.
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on 13 July 2004
It's not often that a new writer explodes on the scene with book after wonderful book that just takes your breath away. Of course, it helps when the author in question has been writing for a few years in another country and her books are just now coming to North American shores. Such is the case of Jennifer Fallon, who's Second Sons trilogy has just been published in its entirety in North America. Also, the first book of the Hythrun Chronicles has also been published, Medalon. Unfortunately for me, Tor has decided that they don't want to saturate the market and will thus be publishing them once a year. It will be a while before we're caught up. I loved the Second Sons trilogy so much that I had to read Medalon, which is actually the first book that she had written. How does it measure up? Not quite as good as the Second Sons trilogy, but much better than other first novels.
The Sisterhood of the Blade rules Medalon ruthlessly, stamping out any hint of heathen beliefs. With the First Sister having just been assassinated, Joyhinia thinks that she's going to be named head of the church. When that doesn't happen, she works a scheme to make it happen. Her daughter R'Shiel and her son Tarja get caught up in it, and find themselves on the run. They fall in with a rebellion against the Sisterhood, and end up even deeper into a massive change that will befall the world. Brak, a Harshini outcast, brings news that the Harshini, long thought dead, may be coming back. And worse, R'Shiel may be the Demon Child that has been foretold. War may be coming to the world, religious or political, with R'shiel and Tarja caught in the middle.
Fallon has created yet another fascinating world, with the various politics and religions thought out and explained. There's Medalon with the Sisterhood, the Hythrun who believe in all of the gods, and Karien, where the War God is the only God, and worshipers of all others must fall to the sword. The Harshini, long thought wiped out, commune with the gods and even have some power (at least of persuasion) over them. The world these people live on seems so real and the events of the novel follow logically.
Fallon does wonderful work with the characters as well, with almost all of them being perfectly three-dimensional. R'Shiel and Tarja are especially good protagonists, with R'Shiel understandably having trouble accepting her parentage, especially considering her upbringing as the daughter of an ambitious Sister. Tarja has been exiled and is brought back at R'Shiel's insistence (though Joyhinia fought it every step of the way). He's a great military leader and an extremely intelligent man. I did find that R'Shiel's attitude during Tarja and her's initial flight from the capital to be a little bit grating and shrill. She seemed just a little too haughty, but she did mellow a bit as the story went on. Jenga, the captain of the Defenders, is also quite well done, considering he doesn't have a major role (at least not in the first book). Joyhinia has him under her thumb because she knows the truth about Jenga's brother and is quite willing to reveal it if Jenga moves against her.
The gods are great characters, too. The goddess of love (I won't name them because some of them travel in disguise and thus naming them would be spoilers) adds complications as she casts a spell on R'Shiel and Tarja that can only make matters worse. The god of thieves is mischievous but can help matters if Brak manipulates him well enough. All of the gods have just a little touch of dimension that makes them stand out, and they are never boring.
Sadly, the only character who doesn't quite work is Joyhinia. Being the main villain of the piece, that's a let-down, but she is just this side of two-dimensional. She's the typical power-hungry woman who won't let anything stand in her way. She's ruthless, willing to torch a whole village to keep a secret safe. She rants and she raves and she really isn't that interesting. If Jenga and his other Defenders weren't so beholden to their honour and their oaths, it would be a wonder that they would obey her at all, as she is quite clearly out for her own power at the expense of the Sisterhood and its Defenders.
Whether it's the lack of a credible villain or perhaps the quality of writing, Medalon didn't grip me like the Second Sons trilogy did. Perhaps that's the fault of the book being Fallon's first, but I didn't have the incredible urge to finish that I did with the other series. Don't get me wrong, the prose is very good and I found the situation interesting. I just didn't think it was as interesting as it could be. The prose isn't quite as polished. Still, for a first book it is quite good and shows flashes of brilliance at times and definitely indicates Fallon's potential. I wonder if perhaps my thoughts on Medalon have been influenced a little by reading her subsequent work first?
Whatever way it is, I can thoroughly recommend Medalon, and I can't wait for the next book to come out.
David Roy
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on 11 January 2012
With something called "The Demon Child Trilogy" you might be expecting "mystery child discovers she is only demon child, sets out to save world." This is not that book.

The main character spends almost the entire book not knowing what she is so don't expect too much magic from this particular fantasy novel. In fact the books takes place in the country of Medalon where to simply believe in gods means being labelled as a heathen (and then swiftly executed).

It is interesting to see the interactions between characters of different faiths and of no faith at all. The two main character R'shiel and Tarja are both atheists and even when looking a god in the eyes, struggle to believe the truth. For the majority of the book however magic is completely absent. Fans of political fantasies like the "songs of Ice and Fire" series might appreciate a novel that steers away from being too magic heavy.

The problem with a fairly non-magic book is that it takes so long for R'shiel to realise she has any kind of power, she doesn't get a chance to use it properly. Even at the finale she doesn't get to be the one that defeats the bad guy. But my biggest issue with her, is that by the end of the book I just didn't like her.

R'shiel and Tarja seem to spend the entire book moving from one form of imprisonment to the next and all along R'shiel treads a fine line between strong defiant woman and hollow saddened girl. By the end, the amount of torture and struggle she's had to go through are so overwhelming it just seems strange for her to join Tarja in heading back in to danger. She was a character I struggled to understand or want to cheer on.

Tarja however is an excellent character, from start to end you're on his side. Before the book's barely begun he's dealing with the punishment of banishment to Medalon's boarders. Things change when the Citadel comes under new management and he's allowed to come home. This however means facing his biggest enemy, his own mother and when his mother cleverly fights her way to becoming First Sister he is once again forced to flee his home. From this point onwards he seem to get himself in to worse and worse trouble.

Medalon is a book with very few rays of light. R'shiel and Tarja face so many hardships and have the entire world turning against them. And the thing with that is, it slowly stops being fun to read.

At about page 350 of 600 I was all for reading the next one, but my mind kept changing. As things became more miserable I felt like I'd had enough, then suddenly a dragon appears and makes things interesting again. My overall decision however is that I won't be reading more.

Final Opinion:

Jennifer Fallon is an excellent writer and her skills can't be faulted. Medalon however is missing that secret ingredient that can make a book truly great. Fans of darker fantasies will enjoy the tough journey our two heroes have to go through. But with very little humour or joy to break up proceedings others might not be able to stomach it so well.

7.2 out of 10
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on 18 February 2005
There's nothing particularly wrong with Fallon's first book, it's just a pity that there's nothing particularly special about it either.
The characters are quite well defined, although some verge on being stereotypes. In particular, the evil mother is seen from an angle which makes her rather inhuman - her character seems defined by her opposition to the 'heroes' rather than through any redeeming features or entertaining traits of her own. One would have thought, given such examples as Livia from 'I Claudius', that it was possible to conjure a believable badgirl - it is obvious that Fallon doesn't really care about her subsidiary characters, and it shows.
On the plus side, the book is an unchallenging and stimulating read, with lots of swashbuckling action - as long as you're not expecting any realism with your fantasy.
The world itself is another mixture. The central premise appears to be gods and religion, which is refreshing but not entirely expertly handled. There is a theology, an economy and a map, but none really stand up to critical scrutiny - although many readers may not require this to enjoy the book.
All in all, Fallon's first novel is better than some authors in their prime. I thought it was a diverting read, but not an essential purchase. An author (and a series) to keep an eye on. - 6/10
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on 7 May 2010
I've discovered Jennifer Fallon with her second sons trilogy - which I loved - a few weeks ago. I bought this book with some expectations and I almost ordered the whole trilogy altogether. Luckily, I did not.

The story has the same ingredients as in the second sons trilogy : struggle for power, religious background, two good main characters, interesting lands, political plots, quite a few twists, ...

Two more things this book have : the gods are real - which is good - and there is a lot of violence - which is bad.

The first half of the story is good, not the most original, but easy to read and truly interesting. But at one point, things go bad for the main characters... And it lasts too long for me... Whatever you think the most violent thing to do is, it's probably in this book...

I was so distressed that I just stopped caring and, thus, stopped reading... I think I've read 2/3 of the story before giving up.

I won't be buying the other books of this trilogy, but I definitely will be reading more of Jennifer Fallon's work to make up my mind about her.
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on 20 November 2003
Jennifer Fallon's Demon Child Trillogy is a must!
from the first paragraph, you are started on a journey through the twits and snares of political courptness, and Religious power struggles. You Learn to understand the mind of a girl (R'shiel) who has been mistreated by her mother all her life, and how her life has been inadvertently turned upside down on a journey of self discovery, where demons are adorable, people dis-like the goddess of love, and your favrote charecter is the god of theves!!! these books are a work of art.
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on 21 November 2009
Great page turner I didnt want to put it down. Yet another great addition to her collection so far. I became hooked after reading her for the first time in Australia in September and even though books are VERY expensive over there I just had to buy the next one in the Trilogy. Jennifer Fallon is not an Author I was familiar with, but Boy am I glad I stumbled across her.
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on 10 March 2011
The UK paperback jacket of Jennifer Fallon's opener in the Demon Child trilogy caught me off guard slightly as it has a distinctive science fiction approach to its artwork. Having never come across Fallon, I was pleasantly surprised to find a fantasy novel that looks to combine the best of Jordan and Modesitt.
The story concerns Tarja Tenragan, a dashing, battle hardened and somewhat cynical Defender of the Medalon realm whom we first encounter punching out an overly arrogant captain called Loclon, and R'Shiel, his half-sister, a Probate the the Sisterhood - a firmly secular group who rule this central state, surrounded on all sides by god-fearing heathens, if you believe the propoganda. The irony that this state atheism is actually incorrect as we meet the Primal and Incidental Gods fairly early on in this adventure - the God of Thieves and Goddess of Love featuring heavily during an episode at the prisoner town of Grimwild. Tarja and R'Shiel come to realise that they are not, in fact related and that R'Shiel is the Demon Child, fated to kill the God Xaphista or die trying. At a human level their adversary is the resplendant wicked stepmother, Joyhinia, whose ruthless cunning secures her the leadership of the Medalon sisterhood after ousting Mahina and with complete disregard for her childrens' wellbeing gets them captured during a growing insurgency and carted off to Grimwild. At a deified level she is being hunted by the God Xaphista and his horde of fanatical Kairen Priests.
What follows is a race through Medalon as they first escape, prove to their rebel friends that Tarja did not betray them and R'Shiel gets captured by a Kairen priest and Lord Pieter, the Kairen Envoy. One explosive moment later on the boat we finally get to hear the truth behind her heritage as demon-created dragons enter the fray and we learn that the once-thought extinct Harshini are in fact alive and that R'Shiel is the daughter of Lorandranek te Ortyn, the dead brother to King Korandellen.
With it comes the explanation that the demon child has unlimited access to magic (normal Harshini can only access small amounts - more with a God's help) but her human blood means she can use it to destroy. All in all a potent weapon.
Fallon's opener in the trilogy is explosively impressive combining powerful plot, plausible characterisation and effortless writing style to create a novel that is as thrilling to read as any Eddings or Feist. There was a dearth of quality new fantasy writers in the early years of the twenty-first century and Fallon's advent in 2005 came at exactly the right time. Any fan of this genre must read this.
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on 2 June 2004
I'd heard great things about this author from an Australian friend and was not disappointed. The characters in Medalon are fresh and original, the world beautifully detailed, the plot is unpredictable, the politics and religious issues thought-provoking and intelligent. I couldn't put it down. It is written with a sense of humor rare in fantasy and obviously doesn't take itself too seriously. I'll be hanging out for every book this author releases and can't wait for the next volume!
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on 27 November 2014
Great series
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