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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 8 September 2005
This 6th Volume follows on directly from the 5th. The story storms straight into the plots and threads of the previous book with great pace and surprises. The whole book still provides unpredictable choices made by leading characters and unexpected events that shape the whole story in a way that sets up the final volume brilliantly....a real cliffhanger that all fans of this series will enjoy.
Without giving too much away, there are interesting developments after the return of the Ashioi in the aftermath of the great spell worked at the end of the last book; Sanglant as heir to his father's kingdom tries to fill his father's shoes, and in turn that provides a new slant on his relationship with Liath. We find out what happened to Alain and his story in particular is intriguing and not completely certain to the reader yet.
There are some fascinating movements by Queen Adelheid and Antonia emerges again and becomes Skopos, joining forces with Adelheid....and they acquire some VERY surprising prisoners!
Not so surprising is the fact that Hugh has survived, but he again proves to be unpredictable. Plus there are chapters showing the state of play of characters such as Ivar and Baldwin, Stronghand, Sapientia, Theophanu and Blessing, et al.
The book is as fast paced and full of plots and sub plots as the other 5 books in the series. Fans will thoroughly enjoy this book. To other readers, I highly recommend reading the other 5 books first to get acquainted with the book's mythology and characters. FIVE STARS!
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on 18 October 2010
It has been a long time since I read Child of Flame by Kate Elliott and the author gives us her apology at the beginning. The last novel is so long it has been split into books six and seven. Needed for the story of Sanglant and Liath to come to an end, this is now epic.
It does now threaten to spill over into Jordan-esque longevity but without quite the intricate descriptions of mundane life.
So, having published a map of (clearly resembling Europe) Liath has unleashed a cataclysm on the world, freed the Aishoi back to eradicate humanity and ended up carried naked by griffins back to Sanglant who leads a bedraggled army back to Wendar whilst Blessing cavorts around having been transported.
Much of the next five hundred pages is taken up with the aftermath of the cataclysm as our groups straggle and struggle back to whence they came and try to restore order against the swathe of destruction. As such, Sanglant confirms his becoming regnant of Wendar and Darre though he and Liath are fighting hard against Mother Scholastica's vicious attempts to nullify their marriage. Blessing finds herself throwing more and more tantrums as she escapes a crown with Berthold and others, eventually being captured by the beautifully evil Hugh of Austra and being used as a pawn in the nefarious alliance with the Aishoi. Throughout a host of other supporting characters wheel and deal to establish a foothold in the new world order whilst the Aishoi prepare to invade, the most prominent of these being the alliance between Aheleid and the new power out of destroyed Arethousa, General Alexandros.
Much of this sixth novel, as Elliott warns us in her note, deals with post cataclysmic upheaval. The real action can be condensed into a hundred key pages as we follow Hugh in those final hundred as he makes his move once Elliott has moved her pieces into position for the final book.
The beauty of it is the fact that the one character who has become an ever deepening mystery is Alain. The opening character of the series, he ghosts in and out in a manner that is infuriating to the reader but used as a brilliant hook by Elliott to keep us moving forward ever faster to get our next glimpse. You can't help hope that the real climax of the books is going to arrive in Alain and that it won't disappoint. His destiny seems inexorable and he calmly accepts it whilst Liath dithers in powerful confusion, frustrating in her prevarication.
Elliott's barely disguised early-medieval world that draws heavily on that social, geographical and religious structure is delightful drawn, excellently characterized and possessing of a heavily built plot in a Jordan-esque fashion. Effortlessly building suspense and engendering real empathy in her characters with Hugh, Alain and Liath the stand-out people, the author has created a fantasy world that resides in the top echelons of the genre.
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In the Ruins picks up the storyline from the end of Book 5, The Gathering Storm. The long-foretold cataclysm has come to pass and the continent of Novaria has been devastated by the return of the Ashioi. However, whilst the Ashioi argue amongst themselves about what attitude to take towards humanity, the kingdoms of Wendar and Varre once again fall into bitter infighting whilst their old rivals in the east, particularly the Arethousans, advance their own plans.

In the Ruins (***) is actually the first half of one novel, chopped in half when it got too large to publish in one volume. As a result it is the least self-contained of the seven books in the series, lacking any kind of climax or resolution. Despite this, the established storylines tick along nicely and we start seeing how some of the less-prominent storylines that the series has followed are starting to come together quite nicely for the conclusion.
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on 13 April 2010
I gave up halfway through this book. I bought the seventh as well but just cannot be bothered finishing the series. I was not enjoying it anymore, lost interest in some of the characters, thought the plot was weak.

The religious angle did not attract me either. After 6 books, I just did not want to read anymore about the piety and observance of some of the characters. It's not my bag. Exploring faith is fine, exploring hypocrisy and doubt is fine, but I reached my tipping point with some of the characters.

I might try to pick it up one day and soldier on to the end, but that's not really how a book should make you feel. She is a good writer, but I found myself very uninspired and lacking motivation to finish this series, even after I'd invested so much time into reading them.
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on 13 June 2012
This is the sixth book in the series of seven volume's. Well what can i say, its long and so much of it unnecessary. There were so many different groups of people who were captured and got away that it became monotonous and unbelievable. I agree with some of the other readers that the first two volume's were the best and very original. These books and this is no exception are a cast of thousands and so much of it disjointed, hard to read but gripping only to find some weird odd conclusions that somehow, for me doesn't hold together. lots of myth and religious input that was frankly over the top. In this book i found it a waste of time. i think Kate Elliott could easily have skipped this volume and condensed the story more. it she had done that i think it would be a better series. I have no problem with detail, but so much detail - too much on food drink and it could go on and on. I frankly skipped pages and passages like this many times over and not just in this volume.

Also what i found irritating and self indulgent in the book and previous ones is the italics and how they rambled on and on and virtually every time you didn't know who was talking and what was going on. Also when i did find out who was talking i often had to go back and reread the italics again to connect them to the person talking in the book. It felt such a mess. I read these books back to back so my heart goes out to anyone who had to wait years for these books to come out as they must have really lost the thread of what was going on.

At one point two characters in this book were talking and at first we didn't know who (that's nothing new) then when we eventually find out we still don't have a clue what they are going on about. This is when Hugh and Heribert are talking about someone Heribert loves. I was and am still totally lost here - anyone got a clue!! This is not clever writing and was very irritating.

I think Kate Elliott is amazing to write all these complicated books and that she holds it all in her head and that's why it gets 3 star and not 2. I think she is very talented but needs to unravel whats in her head and think about what she is trying to get over to her reader. As it is i find her work painful to read and annoying, too many characters, even if they are well drawn.

I will read the last book, but i don't hold out much hope as i am sure there will be loads more italics and like this book too much left unsaid after a build up.
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on 3 December 2008
From the first three books I believed this to have good potential, even though the end of the third book drulled on. Now however the plot has dragged on, I feel it took to long for the two worlds to collide and in the previous book I started to get fed up.

Alain had good potential in the first few but by the time he returned from the past where he saw the world collapse I was expecting him to warn Liath and the pair to work together to try to stop the Seven Sleepers and the Aoi. However Alain seemed to just wander about until getting caught and going crazy, in this volume he spends most of his time healing from the wounds he recieved when captive. Moreover he has started spouting about healing the world (it's hard to understand what he is supposed to do). He is still the most entertaining read out of all the characters but I can't see what he is supposed to be doing.

I'm can't believe I'm saying this but I am starting to find Ivar the most entertaining at the moment, Liath seems to know what she has to do but again is caught up by Hugh (why don't they just cut his head off and be done with it, they've had pleanty of chances) and how he has always seemed to come out on top is beyond me when everyone knows he's dangerous.

I was hoping that all the charcters would have joined up by now to try to sort out this problem but they all are still wandering around doing naff all. The books in a slight cliffhanger and I'm reading the final one now more to just know how it ends than enjoyment. It was a possible good series that I've found has become poor by the end.
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on 9 September 2013
At last the story begins to come togetherand aspects start to resolve. My main concern with this series is that Kate tends to 'meander', to draw out the story unecessarily. Otherwise, it would be a very satisfying read.
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on 8 December 2008
I think that there was a good story underlying this series, but I can't say that I enjoyed reading it. Call me a Philistine but I think books should be a pleasure to read - not just a challenge. For a seven book series to be a pleasure and not a challenge, the author needs to make it easy to read. And that's where old Katie falls down.

First, there was the arcane Shakesperian dialogue. At first this was a neat touch. By the end it was looking like a howling blunder. What it did was it made the book a struggle to read. Contrast this with (say) David Gemmell, Geroge Martin or (outside fantasy) Paul Auster. They're authors whose work glides down like honey. I can get through pages and pages of their work without getting tired. without finding my mind drifting onto other things.

Second, I don't have a brain the size of a planet. My paranoia is where the Marvin resemblance ends. With a series as big as this, I expect to have a cast list at the back of every volume (not just volume 6!) and I expect a recap at the start of volumes 2-7. Even if I'm reading the novels in succession, because of the way my mind's drifting, it's comforting just to have the author confirm to you that you took in the whole story and didn't miss something important.

Third, with multiple story lines, it's good to make it more clear to the reader who we're talking about. George Marin had the great idea of having the name of the viewpoint character in big letters at the start of each chapter and it would have been great if Kate could have copied this. That's a WIBNI - "wouldn't it be nice if". Not a big issue. What I found unforgivable was when the first couple of pages of a chapter didn't mention the names of the people involved. He did this, she did that, etc. I found myself having to look ahead to find who we were talking about before I could read any further.

As for individual books,
Volume 1 was quite good - 4 stars
Volume 2 was still OK - 3 stars
Volumes 3 and 4 really dragged - 2 stars
Volume 5 actually had things happening in it - 3 stars
Volume 6 was back to normal - 2 stars
Volume 7 had to have things happening really but was dull - 3 stars
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on 28 August 2011
Fascinating read about how the races of Novaria recover and set about reorganising there land and how to mix with other races that have been bought back from the original spell that cast them out.

I admire Kate Elliotts skill in managing the different characters personalities so well although a good memory for the reader must be a definite requirement.
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on 15 February 2014
I loved this series and enjoyed all the books, some more than others. So sad to think that there is only one more book to come.
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