Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Raven, II

First, I apologize for the dearth of content since interviewing Pat. I've been too lazy, honestly. As an excuse, I use the newborn (3 weeks old) and my new job (1 week old). Incidentally, I have two more interviews in the vault, one of which will be coming up this Sunday night. On to the review.

It's been a week, or so, since I finished James Barclay's Noonshade. The events of this book coming directly in the wake of the preceding book, Dawnthief.

The Bad: For what this particular story is, there is a lot of padding. The entire tale covers a two week period of time, give or take a day here and there. A lot of areas in it, particularly surrounding Julatsa, went over-long.

The force a story delivers to it's reader, was notably absent, in some key places. I'll give only one example here, because I don't want to spoil a tale. Thraun, a member of the mercenary company, The Raven, leaves the group under heartbreaking circumstances. The means of his departure are extremely sorrowful. The tale whisks you straight past that.

Another thing that has caught up with me through the first two books is that, in the region of the world traversed thus far, there is no over-arching power. This seems incredible to me, given that people are what they are. There is a dominant power in every culture. To use a cliche, "Nature abhors a vacuum."

The Good: The storyline surrounding Styliann, mage of Xetesk, resolves wonderfully. Coincidentally, the circumstances of the Protectors, specialized warriors created by the College of Xetesk, are very thought provoking. Unfortunately, Barclay leaves you thinking and doesn't follow up on a great side-story.

All in all, Noonshade felt like Dawnthief part II. There was no progression, or regression, as far as the overall story goes. I would really like to see the world Barclay has created fleshed out a great deal more. However, I have five more novels, as well as one novella (or novellette, hell I don't know - my membership request to the literati was turned down), to go. In all honesty, I'm already several chapters into Nightchild and I like it better than the previous two, thus far.

Next up: Sunday Night Spotlight with another notable sf&f blogger and, ultimately, the review of Nightchild.

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