As usual, I get hung up on the “baddies” in a story. In Song of The Ice Lord, the Ice Lord is our baddie, most likely a spirit/god/demon of destruction and hunger. Not hunger for food, but hunger for everything. The Ice Lord seems to be driven by a desire or need to devour all it touches. Once a place has come into contact with the Ice Lord, it is completely destroyed by it/him/her and its armies. The Ice Lord’s method of gathering armies is through fear, the fear of being devoured. Thinking about the Ice Lord made me think about humanity’s hunger and destructiveness. We are good at that. Sadly, too good. Perhaps we will be lucky and find ourselves a Lodden and Maran to save us from ourselves.
War is one of the many mysteries I struggle to understand. I do realize that humans are incredibly territorial. As a breed, we seem to want to expand our own lands and ideas of right and wrong, even if that means killing other humans. The Skral, Sharan and Gai Ren are no exception to this. What started out as one people developed into competing tribes and nations. At regular intervals they would attack their neighboring countries, city-states or tribal competitors. When the Ice Lord arrives on the scene a few people from each nationality escapes and they are taken to the islands of the Skral. These, usually competing, people band together in an attempt to dethrone the Ice Lord without destroying every last remnant of themselves and their cultures. Changing alliances. What a bizarre phenomenon and terribly confusing to my asperger brain. One of my thoughts on reading this was the same as the thought whenever I hear of this happening in the real world: “How long will it take before they are killing each other again?” Historically speaking, not very long at all.
Song of the Ice Lord is in many ways a terrifying story. Horror it ain’t, not in any kind of manner. But its way of nailing the future of nations (historical and current) makes me want to shout: “can’t we just be friends, please, and stop all of this destruction”. A girl can dream.
The flow of words was very different to the other stories in this series. Most of that probably has to do with the insertion of the three short stories, all three important in the context of the over-all story.
You know, Ailric is a douchebag. He is about as power-starved as you can possibly get and Tanith is his way to the throne. Talk about being willing to do and say anything to get his way. Humans are less than dirt to him and his jealousy knows no bounds. As if he has anything to be jealous about. Tanith tells him over and over and over again that she is not interested and could he please stop touching her. Being the third in line for the throne of the “elves”, Tanith feels pressured by many of the folks at home to bind herself to Ailric as the joining of their two families is seen as a good match.
According to Psychology Today a person with a narcissistic personality disorder is one who is arrogant, lacks empathy for other people, needs a lot of admiration. Narcissists are cocky, self-centered, manipulative and demanding. They are focused on unlikely outcomes (I don’t know – like becoming consort to Tanith) and feel they deserve special treatment. For some reason they have a high self-esteem – which goes along with their arrogance. If their self-esteem is threatened they may become aggressive (like Ailric’s threats and actions toward both Gair and Tanith) even though their self-esteem is rooted in the bedrock of who they are.
Holy cow, this is soooo Ailric. He manages to match all of the qualities. Like I said: a complete and total douchebag.
Gair is your basic good guy. He’s not perfect, not by a long shot. In fact he is feeling pretty murderous when it comes to Savin. I get this need for vengeance. Not that anyone has ever effected the killing of one of my loved ones, but there have been people I would have liked to, at the very least, beat up. People who hurt my children in any way come to mind – even if mine are adult now. In real life I prefer the good guys (and women). I happen to be married to one of the most decent men on earth. Like Gair they are all flawed in some manner, but something shines through. This strange quality is what Ms. Cooper manages to catch in her writing. Someone like Gair is often presented in a manner that makes me wriggle uncomfortably due to their unbelievability. But Ms. Cooper stays far, far, far away from that trap. Gair is a guy I would like to hug just because he is huggable. I guess he could be good-looking but that is not what I am remembering – and I finished The Raven’s Shadowat 6 am this morning.
I kid you not. I am 49 years old in a few days and I read through the night. What’s an old woman doing with an all-night-read? Shame on you Ms. Cooper for keeping me up all night. That seldom happens any longer, but I just had to finish. Now I have to wait another year or two for the next installment. What I have just done is a basic case of hurry up and wait. Oh, well. Old age is no guarantee for learning from experience. I choose to blame it all on Ms. Cooper. No personal responsibility at all – oh no!
Teia is the other extremely interesting main character. Poor girl. Once it was discovered she had the talent, she has had to be extremely careful about letting on how strong she was/is. Not only has she needed to watch out for the clan speaker, but she has also had a less than ideal relationship with the clan chief. Well, relationship is a bit strong. Before she was 16 he abused and raped Teia until he had impregnated her. Good thing she ran away even if it did lead to her becoming banfaith of the Lost Ones. A banfaith is a prophetess or oracle. Understandably, Teia feels awfully young for the kind of responsibility she holds. In a sense she is considered next to Baer (their chief) in authority. The Lost Ones ask for her guidance on where to travel which is kind of natural as Teia sees where they need to go. Where the Lost Ones need to go is to the enemy to warn them of the pending invasion.
Ytha is Teia’s old teacher. She is the one who should have made certain that Teia received proper training for a Speaker. But Ytha is afraid of what would happen if someone has more power than she. Anything (including murdering people perceived as obstacles) is acceptable to achieve her goals. Ytha’s goal is to lead all of the Nimrothi clans into the old home-land – together with her chief Drwyn as chief of chiefs. I would not like to get into her way.
Elspeth Cooper’s writing has appealed to me from the beginning. She is one of those rare people who has a gift. In all likelihood Ms. Cooper works hard to provide us with a novel of this quality. But, you know, there is that extra indefinable something that gifted people have.
My son and I recently finished reading The Black Magician trilogy together. What he discovered is that sometimes favourite characters die. He felt that was kind of cruel of Canavan. It is one thing when the bad guys die, but good guys (especially ones you really like)? Oh, well. It is unlikely this is the last time he experiences this. Despite that, he really enjoyed himself during our adventure. As did I.
The High Lordanswers all our questions about why Akkarin uses black magic. It also shows us that the powers that be sometimes make long-term decisions that are seemingly wise at the time but turn out to be bad for future generations. Accidental deaths can cause a lot of trouble down the road.
I’m still impressed with Sonea. I think that growing up rich and powerful blinds you to the reality that most people live under. Peggy McIntosh discusses this phenomenon in her White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack. Sonea growing up in the slums has made her aware of the harsher sides of life and made her more open to the possibility that status quo must change. Even Rothen and Dannyl, who are open-minded for wizards, fail to understand exactly how privileged they are.
My dad grew up under extremely difficult conditions. His mom was a paranoid schizophrenic and his dad disappeared after he had enjoyed German hospitality in prison camp. Torture got the better of him and alcohol was used to self-medicate. That left my dad as the responsible person at home from a very young age. His mom did her best, but, you know, being a paranoid schizophrenic without access to medication does not help in creating stability for your children. My mom’s childhood sucked as well. Her dad was an alcoholic and her mom worked her tail off to provide for them. When my mom has told me what it was like to drag a drunk dad up three stairs to get him inside the apartment – after he had pretty much spent his earnings on booze – well, I wonder how she made it????
But that childhood made them into pretty awesome people who have always been concerned with the greater good. They turned what could have made them bitter into something that helps others each and every day (even when they are now ancient =) ). Like Sonea, not all of their decisions have been wise. But like Sonea, what they have done is try to be true to the motto of “not doing unto others what you would not like to have them do unto you”.
Sonea grew up without her parents but was fortunate enough to get to live with her aunt and uncle. This is probably what saved her (and the rest of the city). Her hunger, poverty, the Purge, being bullied by the other novices and being suspected of everything “bad” by the adult wizards did not stop her from being true to her own values. Sonea’s situation is in no way unique in the world (except for the magic that is). Poverty, war, captivity, orphanhood and homelessness are all part of the lives of a huge amount of children and adults. That people are actually able to rise above their experiences and make the world a better place is amazing. Yet people do it all the time – just like my parents have. Which is why I find Sonea utterly believable. Her decisions regarding Akkarin seem inevitable and sensible considering the kind of person she is.
Tayend is my other favorite person of this story. He is our lad from Elyne. While homosexuality was not accepted in Elyne, homosexuals were not persecuted. Unlike Dannyl’s experience in Kyralia. Being a fan of the underdog, I would have thought that Dannyl would be the one to appeal the most to me. But Tayend has an innocence about himself that seems true. When that innocence is challenged, as it is in The Novice, Tayend rises to the occasion. He is loyal to Dannyl, in love with Dannyl and willing to avoid meeting with Dannyl if that is what it takes to protect him from the wrath of the magician’s guild. I wish I could have gotten to know him better.
Cery is back and this time he finds himself with a mysterious customer who seems willing to help him find whatever Sachakans arrive at Imardin. She turns out to be different from what he had originally thought, and that causes friction. But Savara still manages to be of assistance to Cery when he needs her help most. Who to trust or who not to trust when you are a Thief, that is the question.
Reading The Black Magician trilogy with my son was my third time through the series and I still had fun and learned new things about myself and the world.
In The High Lord Trudy Canavan gifted me with really fun words to read. During part of the book she had used the words Sachaka, Akkarin and Takan a lot. My mouth was having so much fun saying those sounds. Sometimes it is really awesome to be an autist (aspergian).
S.M. Reine does not go easy on her characters. Not really on any of them. James is not as present in Damnation Markedas he has been previously. The bond that arose between him and Elise in Dark Union is causing both of them problems, and Elise feels betrayed by the way he has handled the whole Stephanie thing. I understand why Elise would feel attracted to James. As we have seen, James was the first person in Elise’s live that showed her that some adults were worthy of trust. That he later betrays that trust in various ways is another matter altogether. Betty was the person that showed Elise that it was possible to enjoy life. Now that Betty is dead, that part of Elise’s life seems to have died along with her.
With the Night-Hag’s death Reno has been left wide open to attempts from other demons to take over. Anthony seems to have stepped in as Elise’s unofficial apsis without all of the advantages that a real apsis has. Elise seems to feel driven to keep the gate in her hands – and out of the Union’s. At the same time I also get the feeling that she has adopted Reno as HER town and along with that a feeling of responsibility for all that happens to her sphere of it. That pretty much means everything that has to do with keeping balance between demons, angels and humans. When it comes right down to it, being a balance keeper is what being a kopis is all about; and Elise has been trained to be the best kopis ever since she was extremely young.
One of Elise and James’ differences of opinion are about just that. James wants Elise to do kopis things only when he deems it appropriate while Elise realises that it is an all or nothing kind of life. This difference of opinion, one they have had for a while, is one of our first glimpses of the way James justifies his driven and self-absorbed choices.
All three of them are messes, complete messes. Despite her awful childhood and less than ideal career Elise seems to be the most grounded of the three. Perhaps it is because of her childhood that Elise is able to stay true to herself and at the same time be of use to those around her. She is going to need that sense of groundedness in her struggles with the “Shadow” and the Union.
The Union is like a cult. These people are crazy. They are so able to convince themselves that they are right, that anything goes as long as it serves their goals. James and they would be a good fit.
I understand why Anthony is a mess. Who wouldn’t be? This is a fairly regular guy who has had to kill others (granted they are demons) and had his cousin killed while he and she were trying to help a friend. In addition Elise is autistic in the way she handles her relationships. That alone is difficult enough for regular people. Poor kid for being drawn into this mess by his attraction to Elise. Some guys just seem to be ruled by their nether parts (see, trying to keep this g-rated).
I personally think that young adults (not the youngest) will be fine reading The Descent series. You need to be prepared for violence, darkness and really messed up people/creatures.
I really am an airhead. I managed to press publish before anything had been written. Sorry if that confused you all. Here is the “real” version of my review.
I hadn’t bought this last installment of the Firekeeper Saga until my son asked me to. We had read the previous five novels together and he really wanted to know how it was all going to end. Reading together is an experience more people should be able to enjoy. As I have said before, this is one of the major advantages to having a child with dyslexia.
Jane Lindskold made Wolf’s Blood as much fun to read out loud as she had made the other five. Her language is intelligent and her vocabulary varied. Again I found myself forgetting to follow the plot as I got so caught up in the intense experience of tasting Lindskold’s prose. That didn’t really matter because I had cheated and read through the novel on my own before reading it to my son.
One thing I have wondered is how the Firekeeper Saga can appeal to both an eighteen-year old and a 48-year-old at the same time. What is it about these characters that the two of us find so fascinating?
Firekeeper and Blindseer
Part of it most definitely has to do with Firekeeper and Blind Seer. The whole idea of our wolf-girl trying to find her place in human society and making sense of us all works for us. That Firekeeper often finds herself flummoxed by human society is understandable. All of our various religions and political views are confusing and usually you have to be an insider to understand all of the unwritten codes that rule us. She is an alien and will remain an alien for the rest of her life. But Firekeeper is an alien with a foot in human society and with people who love her and Blind Seer to bits.
I’ve been trying to figure out how Firekeeper was changed by querinalo. In Wolf Hunting we see that something did happen to her. My personal belief is that she became even more firmly a wolf in her heart and head because of her chant during her fever. Blind Seer probably did not change much as he beat the crap out of the source of the illness, but his view of himself changed drastically. Having come from a people who hated magic fiercely would make his adjustment to the “new” him a challenge.
Derian’s change was a bit more visible. This portrait of Derian with Eshinarvash by FortunesFavor shows how he has become a bit more horselike. His ears and forelock are especially telling. Derian struggles terribly to accept his new looks. His greatest fear is how his family will perceive him now that he “looks like a horse”. I would freak out myself if I woke up after an illness and discovered my face and outer extremities had metamorphosed into a blend of human and animal.
Derian also, quite understandably, worries about what women will think of him. Looking past our exteriors seems to be a challenge for a lot of us (myself included). It’s so easy to get hung up in insignificant details all the while forgetting about the significant ones (like personality and temperament). As the saying goes, where there is life there is hope. For Derian this is true (as you will see for yourself when you read Wolf’s Blood).
Lindskold presents things from various points of view. Being on the spectrum makes this doubly important to me. I have learned much reading authors like Lindskold. She, too, has been part of a teaching staff who have all helped me understand people. Perspective changes good guys to bad and vice versa. If there is one thing I have learned in this life of mine, it is that perspective matters.
War is a strange thing. King Bryessidan and his compatriots’ desire to take over the gates makes perfect sense. They had convinced themselves that they were being slighted and hindered in their “noble” purpose. Therefore they were justified in planning and executing an attack against the Nexus Islands. Seen from the Nexans’ side that is an erroneous argument, but to the winner goes the writing of history.
I also found myself understanding Virim. What he did was a terrible thing, but he never intended for querinalo to be so bad. But when it was he took advantage of it and found it difficult to let go of the apparent advantages to its system.
The ending was good. I knew this would be the result, but it needed saying and happening.
Jane Lindskold has been a pleasure to read with my son. The Firekeeper Saga kept him asking for more. Being the fantasy nut that I am, it is a pleasure whenever my sons enjoy the same literature I have enjoyed.
If an author is going to create an Apocalyptic event he might as well do it thoroughly. Killing off seven billion people overnight seems to be pretty thorough to me. Messing with the environment and changing the stars and planets we usually see adds to that thoroughness. R.J. Murray shares such an event with us in The Event. The Event appears to be a science fiction tale that slowly but surely leans toward fantasy. Not fantasy as we know it but rather new technology that has to be developed due to the teeny tiny damages wrought by Earth’s changes. Mutated people that have the qualities we find in traditional fantasy adds to the fantasy feel of the story.
As with other apocalyptic tales, we find that the qualities people already have seem to intensify in times of crisis. This is a normal trait in humans. Any type of traumatic event tends to pare down all of our extras leaving some sort of quality central that we draw upon. This is when we see a person run back into a mall again and again saving people’s lives while others break into buildings raiding them of wares, beat up others and do other heinous deeds. People are people whether our skyline changes or not.
The mutations we see are people whose bodies morph into something other than they were used to being (that is, those who did not turn to dust or remain human). Let’s see what we have:
Wizards are people who find themselves younger/stronger/longer-lived and able to handle the tools left from before the apocalypse. All races have their own wizards.
Elves also seem to be long-lived and changed into a stronger/younger version of themselves. But they seem more attuned to plants and living creatures rather than technology.
Dwarves are like the ones in stories: like to live underground and have an affinity for stone. Dwarves are shorter and more compact than humans. They will probably end up being longer-lived as well.
Humans are more numerous than the others and breed easier. There really isn’t much more to say about them.
Goblins are like the goblins we know from epic fantasy. There are various types, sizes and numbers. Most of them live underground or underwater. They too have wizards.
Thankfully Murray hasn’t fallen for the temptation of making people smarter or dumber than they were just because they happen to be elf, wizard, dwarf or goblin. There are qualities that are intensified but if you were dumb as bread before the apocalypse, well, you are going to remain dumb as bread – and probably dead within a very short time. Some of the people have to learn the hard way and for some that means they end up dead.
That probably tells you that it is not all happy endings. In spite of that I would not say that The Event is particularly dark. It is more like the traditional sword/sorcery stories in tone. I’m guessing this is a young adult story. It’s a pretty straight-forward tale without explicit violence or explicit sex. There is action and plenty of it.
Murray builds his world for us showing us how people become what they are and what happens to the Earth itself. By the end I felt pretty comfortable with the whole thing. I felt there was a proper ending although there was a tiny hill-hanger showing me that a continuation was on its way.
A pretty enjoyable tale that looks as if it has great potential.
Requiemis by far the best of the Blood War trilogy. It seems as if Marquitz is finding his fantasy feet (although I doubt he ever lost them since feet are usually stuck on).
What I like about Tim is that we have little romance and lots of action. Tons of it in fact. The Blood War trilogy is after all about a war fought on all possible sides against overwhelming odds. Which is why I add my warning: Beware of blood and gore. War is ugly and so is this. There is no attempt at sugar-coating the brutality of warring parties in Requiem nor is there a glorification of the violence.
I retain my favorites from before: Arrin / Uthul and Zaree and this time I am adding Ellara (this is one resilient girl). Ellara is an orphan from Lathah who ends up helping orphan friends and the royal family in their escape attempts. She showed the kind of grit she had in Embers of an Age and has the same kind of gumption in Requiem. A girl to admire.
While Blood War is considered dark fantasy it is still full of hope. Maybe it is this hope that makes intelligent beings fight for their lives. My brain finds it mysterious to see the lengths of suffering people are willing to endure just so they will not die. But in Requiem we also see that for some people there comes a point when dying is an expression of hope.