It’s Saturday, and as promised there’s a new review, two of them actually.  Both are on books by the same author but from different series.

Karin Miller’s Empress could have been a really good book; it had all the marks of one.  The writing and story were both good.  The world was well thought out.  The characters however don’t feel right.  Maybe it was just Hekat’s views on the world and the rest of humanity.  It could easily have been Hekat herself, but something about the characters just didn’t sit right with me.  The spoken language was stilted and had the feel of small children talking in absolutes.  There was a great deal of repetition between a character’s thoughts and what they said, including some lines that read as thought they had just been copy/pasted from “thought” to “said”.

Hekat starts off as the kind of character that could be very easy to feel sorry for, but as time passed in the book I felt myself waiting for her to grow up.  Her thoughts are angry and proud and childish.  Anyone she disagrees with is immediately “stupid” and thus deserves to be manipulated to suit her ends.  A third of the way through the book I was almost certain that the reader isn’t meant to like Hekat, she was too static in her behaviors right up to the end.  Her suddenly throwing herself into the god’s grace felt like her mind was starting to twist a bit, as if she weren’t meant to be the heroine or was being set up for a major fall.  There were more and more points as the novel progressed that I hoped that one of the minor characters would see her for the monster she seems to be.  It really felt like at some point she should have been overthrown or had an epiphany or somehow been removed “from the gods eye”, but that never happened.

Empress is well written and while I wouldn’t suggest it for a casual reader, I would suggest it to people who enjoy writing as a way to broaden their horizons.  I still have problems with the feel of the language used, but also note that it was written as such on purpose and used skillfully.  The story was a bit predictable, but it seems to lead to something much bigger and less controlled.  Given the chance, I will finish this trilogy just to see what happens next, and that is the mark of a well written book.

That’s one, but it links to the next one.

After hearing a number of good things about it, I picked up a copy of Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage.  I was expecting something along the same lines of Empress and not too optimistic about it, that changed almost immediately.  Asher is the son of a poor fisherman, and the youngest of his family.  He runs away from home one night to the city of Dorana as part of a plan to build his dream life for himself and his father.  Shortly after arriving he finds himself rescuing Prince Gar, the first child of the Weather Worker.  What follows is an interesting series of events that lead Asher from the royal stables to a job as Gar’s assistant and confidant.

This is far and away different from much of the other fantasy that I read.  The Doranen and Olken seem to be this world’s elves and dwarves respectively, but beyond that it all feels new.  The characters are solid; they have petty squabbles and seemingly reasonless jealousies, they fight amongst themselves and become enamored of ideas and behaviors.  The story is well laid out, I personally could have done with a little less exposition on some things and more on others, but all taken I can’t complain.  There were moments where things seemed to happen just because the story needed them to, such as Asher being able to calm the prince’s horse.  My biggest complaint stems from the fact that The Innocent Mage was originally the first half of a larger novel, and it shows.  The good news is that if the follow up is as good as this was, I’m going to wind up reading both it and Ms. Miller’s new series.