Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Cracked Throne

By Joshua Palmatier.

I'm no longer sure why I liked the first book in this series. I think part of the appeal was that Varis was relatively innocent, but figuring that out from reading my old post is next to impossible.

The first three quarters of this book turned me off it, making the above question occur to me. Watch as Varis metamorphoses from an angry, paranoid, starving street rat (to use Aladdin's term; hers is "gutterscum") to an angry, paranoid, starving tyrant.

In other words, the characters (especially Varis) seem a little flat. It doesn't help that the bad guys are apparently attacking and destroying ships and who knows what else for no apparent reason (the reason is revealed in the last 20 pages of the book.)

Varis is constantly going through the crucible in this book; she apparently never has time to relax, and when she does she doesn't bother narrating. ("One month later...") It seems like all anyone wants to do in Amenkor is practice fighting her. She makes bad decisions and caters to the mob. (Can you say "fall of Rome"?) The major plot point halfway through is practically transparent to the reader but apparently not to Varis and the hundreds of personalities stored in the throne... unless they were manipulating her. The conversation is a bit slow at times.

This book was saved by its ending; if it wasn't for the last 80 or so pages I would have left thinking it was completely irredeemable. As it is, it kind of ends on a cliff-hanger and Varis as a character doesn't seem to have changed very much from the beginning of the book. Sure, she's gotten more practice fighting and using her magical powers, but it's pretty obvious that there will always be someone better than she is who is interested in taking her down.

I will have to reserve judgment until the third book comes out. Right now, I have to say I definitely wouldn't recommend this book by itself, but the trilogy may be redeemed by the third book.

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