Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Heir of Novron and The Rook Reviews

Another mid-week post announcing the newest, latest, and greatest reviews at SFFWorld. This week’s reviews are brought to you by Dan and me. .

I finished off Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations saga with the third and final omnibus Heir of Novron. As with reviews of most concluding volumes, I give a brief assessment of the series towards the end of my review. Here’s the cover and excerpt:

The princess is imprisoned, the heroes are separated, and the manipulator is about to take the reigns of the burgeoning empire fully within his grasp. This is what’s at stake upon the beginning of Wintertide, the fifth book in Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations and the first half of Heir of Novron, the third and final omnibus.

Said manipulator is Saldur, who forced events to place Modina on the throne of the Empire as the Heir of Novron, in the hopes of playing her like a puppet to do as he wishes. Modina is starting to realize she can be her own person after living in shock of the events leading to her being placed on the throne, that is, the death of her father, destruction of much of her village, and that she killed a dragon-like monster. Her assistant, Amilia, was hand-picked by Saldur to prepare the listless Empress to do his bidding, but little did Saldur suspect the two puppets he thought he was controlling would turn into young women who could think for themselves. Compounding the difficulties in Aquesta is the impending invasion of the Elves who after years of seclusion, wish to return and claim the Empire as their own.

One thing that Sullivan has played with throughout the series is the idea of Prophecy (yes, with a capital “P”). In this respect, he’s treading ground (successfully, for my mileage) that Tad Williams treads in his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (a trilogy that should be read by every fantasy fan and one that predates A Song of Ice and Fire for more adult, and darker turns on Epic Fantasy). Like Williams, Sullivan is splaying with readers expectations of how to use Prophecy and characters expectations on how to read certain prophecies. In other words, just because the Prophecy is written and “known” doesn’t mean that you really know its true meaning. I particularly enjoyed how Sullivan played with the dwarf Magnus – his character arc moved along at a nice pace as Sullivan revealed more about his past and how he came to interact with Royce and Hadrian. The character who turned out to be the most annoying (by design, no doubt) was Degan Gaunt. In the early volumes, he was the charismatic leader of the resistance, and by the end of the series, he turned into a whiny, complaining, self-centered ass.

Dan is aback this week with another review, Daniel O'Malley’s debut novel The Rook which is also the first in a series

Up to now Thomas has been a shy retiring accountant, fearful of using her talent, but thoroughly engrossed in the administration of the Court. The Court, consisting of a Lord and Lady, two Bishops, two Chevaliers, and two Rooks plus all the supporting staff of Pawns and Retainers required to fulfill its mission, is a centuries-old organization charged with protecting Britain from supernatural calamity. Over time, the Court has meshed with the mundane government while maintaining its secrecy. The trouble is there is a traitor among the Court. The story is her journey to find and expose the traitor.

Over and above the traitor's threat, she discovers another organization, the Grafters, is also planning an invasion of the Isles. Likewise a supernatural threat, the Grafters use biology and science to create their monsters whereas the Court uses natural talent. A long time ago, centuries, the Grafters attempted an invasion of Britain but were soundly defeated on the the Isle of Wight. The Grafters haven't forgotten. They intend to even the score.

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