I have read three books this week and am well into a fourth. All have been ebooks, rather than the print books in my library pile. For some reason, I didn’t fancy any of the print books and turned instead to the fantastic digital offering from our public library service.
The first book of the week was the final episode in the Demon Cycle series by Peter V Brett: The Core. Here is the blurb…
For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them. Then two heroes arose—men as close as brothers, yet divided by bitter betrayal. Arlen Bales became known as the Warded Man, tattooed head to toe with powerful magic symbols that enable him to fight demons in hand-to-hand combat—and emerge victorious. Jardir, armed with magically warded weapons, called himself the Deliverer, a figure prophesied to unite humanity and lead them to triumph in Sharak Ka—the final war against demonkind.
But in their efforts to bring the war to the demons, Arlen and Jardir have set something in motion that may prove the end of everything they hold dear—a Swarm. Now the war is at hand and humanity cannot hope to win it unless Arlen and Jardir, with the help of Arlen’s wife, Renna, can bend a captured demon prince to their will and force the devious creature to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons breeds an inexhaustible army.
Trusting their closest confidantes, Leesha, Inevera, Ragen and Elissa, to rally the fractious people of the Free Cities and lead them against the Swarm, Arlen, Renna, and Jardir set out on a desperate quest into the darkest depths of evil—from which none of them expects to return alive.
This was a five book series (apparently the “V” in the author’s name signals this) and I was pleased to be able to read until the end of the tale. Here is my four star review on Goodreads:
I feel that I have to give four stars to this book for the sheer effort and writing skill involved in finishing this exciting series. There are massive faults, of course, the biggest one being the need for better editing. The plot became so unwieldy, the characters so many, the setting so huge, that the author needed someone to help him pull all of this together. There are too many meanderings along the way, too many side-issues that are totally unnecessary in telling the tale. That said, I loved the adventure in this series and this final book brings it all to an end in a very satisfying way.
For my second book of the week, I had a browse until I found a trilogy by Jo Clayton. I have already read a few of her books from a different series, but was happy to find a complete trilogy available on the ebook catalogue – Duel of Sorcery. These books were originally published in the 1980s and the covers from then are truly awful! Here is the blurb for the first book, Moongather:
Serroi had been an outcast. She was a misborn of the windrunners, of small stature with pale olive skin and certain strangely heightened sensitivies. But now she was a meie – a woman warrior trained by an exclusive order. She had been with her shieldmate at the Plaz when she overheard the assassination plot against the Domnor. A murder was to take place at Moongather – that time of increased access to the demon world.
But while trying to escape with the information, Serroi broke her shieldmate oath, a breach of honor which made life unbearable for her, and forced her back – to search for her betrayed shieldmate and warn the Domnor, although the land itself seemed to be hunting her!
I read this book pretty fast and went straight on to the next one! This is the review that I have just posted on Goodreads for four stars:
I am rather surprised that I didn’t find this series in the 1980s, but, reading it now, in 2019, I think that it stands up very well. I love the strong female characters and the beautiful world-building writing. The adventure is great and the alternate chapters from differing timelines work very well. The only thing that grates on me is the use of so many new terms for animals, plants etc. This can get very confusing as you read through the trilogy.
The second book in the series, Moonscatter, has this blurb:
With skin as pale and eyes as black as death, a blood-red ruby depending from one nostril, he was Ser Noris, the most villanous wizard of all time. He had done it all – slain all adepts worth his scorn, attained immortality, become the dire tyrant of the Sorcerers Isles and a shadow of doom on the lands beyond. But it wasn’t enough…
There was yet one opponent he had not humbled – She whom men called Maiden; She who was implicit in the alternation of death and birth, the cycling of the seasons, the complex circling of the moons. She who was the phoenix – the spirit of the earth itself!
This is the novel of Serroi, brave warrior-woman of the meie, who knows she must overcome the ties set on her by Ser Noris, who raised her as his tool, or see her world crumble. But can she withstand being a pawn in a power game between the most virulent fiend of all time and the spirit of Nature herself?
These blurbs are not very well-written as they do not really reflect the story accurately. There are many other memorable characters in these books which play an equal part to Serroi. Anyway, here is my review:
The structure of the second book is very different as we follow the adventures of several groups. The setting becomes much clearer and plot more tightly focused. Again, the world building has moments of real beauty and lovely lyrical writing. In contrast, political machinations are very dark with violence and misogyny, religious fervour and bleak poverty.
I am now reading the third part of the trilogy, Changer’s Moon, and I will tell you all about it in next week’s Reading Roundup post.
Enjoy your reading!