Sunday, May 11, 2014

Romance and Adventure in a Familiar Setting, If Not Quite Luxury

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been (probably not, I have been mostly AWOL these days), mostly occupied with Heyer, which has the decided advantage that I can review all my reading at once :) And I will, hopefully sooner rather than later, but meanwhile, I do have one non-Heyer on my list.  Around January or February, we went to Saki and Danny for Shabbos and I was discussing books with Gital (who is of course, also a Heyer fan and, as such, can be trusted :)) She said she had been reading this fantasy series she was enjoying and gave me one of the books. I wasn’t expected and TON out of it b/c she didn’t give it rave reviews, but I figured it would be a solid romance.  (Name of the book is Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier btw).

And it was that.  It was Sharon Shinn-style fantasy, mostly old-fashioned society where the romance takes a central part of the story.  This particular fantasy land was based on Celtic myth, so apparently quite close to medieval Irish society (not that I know much about it).  Being medieval (and medieval fantasy) it was more earthy than chronicles of my beloved hyper-refined Regency era, but I think that’s typical of this kind of fantasy.  I’m trying to think of other examples of it, because I feel like there are others - maybe Sherwood Smith? Court Duel is actually quite refined though… I guess maybe Outlander, though that obviously takes place in much less refined circumstances… anyway, not that important.  Point is, old-fashioned nobility, less elegant than perhaps my preference, but still framed in a society where romance means something.  Plenty of magical elements too.

Fine, so that’s the setting.  What about the plot? It was a romance.  Definitely a bit of an earthy one :) But solid, well-plotted, with some angst.  I guess the romantic plot culminated well before the actual ending, but it was far enough along that it was fine.  But, as that suggests, this book is not a solid romance, there’s plenty else going on, mostly of fantastical nature.  I found this part of the book well-crafted, with lots of loose ends that are tied up neatly, and puzzles that work out.  (I tend to like this kind of thing, I should really call it out more explicitly in reviews).  I guess the beginning was a little slow, but it always is, in comparison with the end.  And our hero and heroine really do impress with their performances, outwitting the evil king of the fairies (or whatever they call themselves :))

As I said (or maybe I didn’t say it yet), it’s been a very long time since I read this, so it’s a little hard to remember exactly how I felt about it.  I do know that I thought it was too earthy for my ideal taste, but that I got through it extremely quickly (at least for the usual pace I’m setting these days) because I found it interesting and fun.  And looking back, and I definitely am thinking I want to read the rest of the series.

Verdict: 3.75/5