Saturday, March 27, 2010

Girl on Book Action: Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey

Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey
ISBN: 0-765-34429-7


Once upon a time, the Seven Shapers dwelled in accord and Shaped the world to their will. But Satoris, the youngest among them, was deemed too generous in his gifts to the race of Men, and so began the Shaper’s War, which Sundered the world. Now six of the Shapers lay to one end of a vast ocean, and Satoris to the other, reviled by even the race of Men.

Satoris sits in his Darkhaven, surrounded by his allies. Chief among them is Tanaros Blacksword, immortal Commander General of his army. Once a mortal man who was betrayed by King and Wife. Tanaros fled to Darkhaven a thousand years ago, and in Satoris’ service has redeemed his honor – but left his humanity behind.

Now there is a new prophecy that tells of Satoris’ destruction and the redemption of the world. To thwart it, Satoris sends Tanaros to capture the Lady of the Ellylon, the beautiful Cerelinde, to prevent her alliance with the last High King of Men.

But Tanaros discovers that not all of his heart has been lost – and his feelings for Cerelinde could doom Satoris, but save the race of Men…


My Thoughts:

This novel is part one of two, so be prepared to read a review of the second one in the not-too-distant future as well.

Some of you may be familiar with Carey’s Kushiel books, but I feel that Banewreaker and its sequel Godslayer don’t get as much attention as her other work and what we here at Girl on Book Action like to do is point you in the direction of things you may not know about (rather than catering only to my literary whims).

As usual, let me start with whatever gripes I had while reading. I appreciate a good descriptive passage as much as the next girl (or guy) but what I don’t appreciate is when the same descriptions happen over and over. I think the phrase “it smelled like blood only sweeter” occurred every single time Satoris was in a scene, given that he is a fairly central player, he had quite a few scenes. I don’t know about the average reader, but I can remember that descriptive detail for the whole book. Mentioning it a few times might be acceptable in order to underline atmosphere or a specific trait, but that’s still not pointing it out every time the guy walks in the room. There were a few other repetitive descriptions, but that one was the most noticeable to me.

Parts of this story made me think of Lord of the Rings and I think that is intentional. You have the group of heroes setting out on a quest to vanquish evil with the help of a hidden weapon. You have the dark lord threatening the status quo. You have a possible union between the immortal Ellylon and a mortal Man. You have the armies amassing on both sides and jostling for more alliances, and so on.

And then you have the twist – seeing the story from both sides, and coming to understand that Satoris is not evil and that he’s not willfully trying to destroy anything, regardless of his role in the Sundering. I like that about the story, especially having read some fantasy novels that are basically just a re-telling of Lord of the Rings. When I first got to the parts that evoke the patterns set in Tolkien’s book I was worried that this would just be another attempt to tell that same old quest-narrative, which means I was pleasantly surprised at Carey’s use of point of view to portray not just the side of the “heroes,” but also the "villains" which complicates our relationship with the story.

I didn’t have any problems with the characters. All of them are “real” with flaws and strengths. I liked especially the way that they confront uncertainty and try to cling to what they believe when confronted with a different version of reality. I will admit that the narrative about the heroes was still largely boring (to me) and I wished for the ability to skip ahead through them the way I skip all the bits about Frodo and Sam in the LotR movies so I can watch battles instead.

Overall, I have to say that this is a mid-grade fantasy book. As far as depth and sensuality go it's no match for some of Carey's other works, nor will it necessarily compare to a Robin Hobb or Katharine Kerr, but it has its merits. I would also suggest that if you're interested in Jacqueline Carey's writing, but aren't into the Kushiel books due to the sexual content you could give this set a go. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how things work out in the second part. I’m curious to see which alliances hold up and which ones falter and how Carey handles the end of what amounts to an interesting response to the Lord of the Rings inspired quest-narrative.

No comments:

Post a Comment