Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review - Emperor of Thorns

This book triumphantly completes the story of Jorg Ancrath. Continuing the pattern of telling parallel stories set in two times that meet at the climax, we continue to follow Jorg at the same two ages as King of Thorns. The young Jorg, of five years ago, continues on from where we left him in King of Thorns, as he takes a journey, not to find himself, but to learn of the world in hopes of one day becoming Emperor. The elder Jorg makes his way to the seat of the Empire, a journey fraught with perils that Jorg handles in his unique way.

The two Jorgs are worlds apart. The younger is learning what his goals are, he still burns with fire, is touched by death, and carries a box on his belt. He is led on his journey by the mysterious builder ghost, Fixler. The elder is married with a child on the way, and is journeying to try to convince the Hundred to vote for him as emperor. But nipping at his heals is the Dead King, who has chosen this moment to strike. Jorg continues to surprise us. At time he seems reasoned and the elder Jorg has new motives for his actions, but they are still the bloody, brutal actions we have known of him since page one.

Both stories converge on the Imperial throne room, but with much different results. The tale is beautifully woven and even has a surprise third point of view, that enhances rather than detracts from the tale. Secrets abound, only a few are easy to guess, and hold the reader tight.

Definitely a fitting conclusion to the story. Jorg grows and changes, yet is shaped by the violence that lies at his core. In many ways it seemed in the previous stories, that much of Jorg was thrust on him by interfering magicians, but here he reveals a bit of truth, that it was always within him, thanks to his father, and it took very little to bring it out. While at time Jorg seems tempered, his methods have not changed since page one of Prince of Thorns. It has been a seamless journey and I look forward, sometime down the road, to taking the journey again.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Book Review - Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Carol Berg is one of my favorite authors so there is little surprise that I loved her latest book. Dust and Light returns us to the world and the events chronicles in Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, but from a completely different perspective. I must confess that because I have been so busy with other things in life, such as family, work, and my own writing, that I haven't read those two which puts me in a unique perspective to see if one of Carol's goals for this new duology, that of completely avoiding spoilers for the older duology, has been successful. That, of course, means I must wait for her next book before I can read the older ones. But it should prove interesting.

This story starts out with a young magician, Lucien, who got in trouble a while back and recently lost most of his family to a tragedy. But something more is up because abruptly his contract is ended and he is given what can best be described as the worst contract imaginable - preparing portraits of dead people to help identify them. But the change does something to his magic. Normally his magic lets him paint a true picture of the sitter, but now that truth has a historic context.

As if things couldn't get worse, he is suddenly arrested by the lead sorcerers and imprisoned. This starts a spiral that leaves his world out of control. There is something not right and if he can find a way he is determined to uncover what is going on. Things do not work out as he, or the reader, expects.

Carol crafts and excellent story. Rather than the first half of a single story, she manages to stay focused on the main points and craft a single story that can stand on its own, yet leaves tantalizing things hanging for the sequel. This book focuses on the mysteries of Lucien's paintings while leaving a larger mystery barely touched on. I was fascinated at every turn of the page and thoroughly enjoyed it. Definitely 5 stars.

The world building was as good as the story. For a world she has already written in, some writers might assume their readers would be familiar and skip some details. Nothing was skipped and it is a fully realized world that really developed me and drew me in.

After reading this book, I am anxious to find out what happens to Lucien and his sister, especially after how this book ends. I suspect there is a lot of things that are even more incredible and magical in store for these characters. Carol Berg definitely has a hit with this one.