Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Swans' War

By Sean Russell: consisting of The One Kingdom, The Isle of Battle and The Shadow Roads. Second reading.

The fact that I reread this hopefully says something for it.

The inside flap of the covers would have you believe that this book is about a feud between the Renne and Wills families over who will inherit a throne left empty when the King of Ayr, the land between the mountains, died a century ago without an heir. To an extent that's true, but only on the surface: it's the story the "commoners" will hear. You, dear reader, are gifted with the real story. It's not what you're thinking! (If I'm wrong, leave a comment and let me know.)

The feud is only an echo of an earlier war between two brothers and sister, sorcerers who were killed fighting each other a thousand years in the past... but didn't die.

To say any more is probably to spoil it beyond forgiveness. This story unfolds like nobody's business: first the feud goes back a century, then a millenium, then to the far reaches of time before Death's kingdom was established... It is well told, with interesting tales tossed in (like some of the smaller tales included in the Sevenwaters trilogy), despite the numerous regrettable typos. The ending leaves some things up in the air but is much more acceptable than The River Into Darkness's ending. Not all the "good guys" are equally interesting, unfortunately, and the ones on the bad side seem to have little redeeming value.

There are moments of delicious irony. There is also interesting ambiguity in some areas: the bargain made ("part of your life will be mine") doesn't specify how much of that life, and I'd rather think that instead of it being a trick (because it's not specified), that it depends on the strength of the person making the bargain. (This will make sense if you read the books.)

What can I say? Read it or not.

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