by Laurell K. Hamilton

Cover image

Publisher: Roc
Copyright: March 1992
ISBN: 0-451-45143-0
Format: Mass market
Pages: 303

Buy at Powell's Books

I've recently read all of Laurell K. Hamilton's other works except for Cerulean Sins, the very latest Anita Blake novel that isn't out in paperback yet. (In fact, I should probably post a review of the Anita Blake series, which I quite enjoyed but read before I started posting reviews of all the fiction I read.) This was her first book, and is unconnected with either her Anita Blake series or her Merry series.

I would actually be hard-pressed to identify this book as being from the same author, which is really interesting.

One of the things that's the most distinctive to me about both the Anita Blake novels and the Merry novels is the narrative style. The first person, snarky, honest and sarcastic world view of the character, coming through so beautifully well in both series, is absent in this book, leaving me with far less of a connection to the character. The switch to first person was clearly a good move for Hamilton as her third person narrative is fairly uninspired. (Although I'd be interested in seeing what she'd do now that she has far more writing experience.)

The plot is pretty generic RPG-style fantasy, involving a lot of mages and a lot of artifacts and at times reading quite a bit like someone's D&D campaign. It's not at all bad if you like that sort of thing, but it's certainly nothing particularly striking, inventive, or new. The characterization is... adequate, but not particularly inspired. I never got much of a feel for any of the characters other than the protagonist, and at several points people entered and left the narrative with so little introduction that I had no idea how to place them.

The plot is competent and executed reasonably well, although it's not clear at times why certain things are happening and one gets the definite feeling that there's a lot of political background in the world that's never really discussed or mentioned. I found myself missing the first-person dialogs explaining the background of things that Hamilton's other series featured.

Overall, not a bad quick fantasy read if you're in the mood for mages blowing things up, discovering dark artifacts, and fighting off possession by magical swords. But if you're expecting the same sort of attitude and style as Hamilton's other novels, you may be disappointed.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2003-10-01

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