|The main character of this book, Martil, is both interesting
and compelling. He is a former war captain who fought in a particularly difficult and
unpleasant war, and in ending the war acted evilly. He regrets what he did to the point
that it more or less ruined him, and this is a story about him facing the possibility that
he can be redeemed.
Another point in favour of the book is that its main secondary
character, Karia, is a child of six. There is a singular lack of young children in fantasy
literature (even the ubiquitous Harry Potter is ten when the series starts), and it is
refreshing to read a book that breaks down that barrier.
There are also a number of points against this book, though. First and foremost, Karia
does not ring true as a child of another society. In fact the author creates an extremely
accurate picture of a confident and demanding six-year-oldbut not one from a more
subsistence level economy and a culture with a more basic technology. Likewise, the
relationship between Martil and Karia is very much that of a modern (foster) parent and
Secondly, the authors control of point of view is problematic. There is one scene
in particular, where a group of people is walking through a tunnel and stops to have a
discussion, where there is a series of paragraphs giving the point of view of each
character. In other places characters are introduced purely to be killed off, and we learn
details of their lives and thought processes that are totally unnecessary. (Tom Clancy
does this too. It was interesting when he first started doing it. Not any more.) The sheer
number of points of view is, in the end, confusing.
So, the book is both good and not so good. I think if I had paid retail price for it I
would have felt let down. As it was, though, this was a fairly enjoyable read because it
was a bit different from what Im used to. Knowing more about it going in, I would
like to read the sequel (to be published early in 2010).