Sorcery Rising

Imagine a world in which Europe does not exist; the Vikings (Eyrans) trade directly with the Muslims (Istrians) at the fabled Allfair, and the Footloose, nomadic gypsy peddlers familiar from a myriad of traditions, converge to swindle them both with false magic, tall tales, and petty thievery. To the Allfair come the cast of characters, seeking adventure, excitement, a beautiful southern wife... and, of course, a handsome profit.

But such is not to be found this year.  Instead, Katla Aranson, swordsmith and rock-climber, chooses to climb the rock her people call Sur's Castle -- the seat of their deity.  Unfortunately, the Istrians claim that rock for their deity Falla... and deem it sacrilege for a female to touch it.  Sacrilege that comes with a death penalty.  And in the resulting intrigue, the merchants can perhaps be forgiven for failing to notice the increasing efficacy of the Footloose charms, for something that has been long asleep within the world now begins to stir.

Though the author has prior publishing credits, Sorcery Rising reads like a first novel.  It has the quality of freshness and talent that is required to catch an editor's eye from the slushpile, and the rough edges of someone still learning what they hope will become their trade.  For a first novel, it is neither especially successful nor especially flawed.  There are hints to Literary Pretension that are not borne out within this book, but may be explored in more depth later. 

The cast of characters are varied, coming from a variety of cultures, though with the usual, overly-modern attitude in sharp contrast with their culture that so often accompanies protagonist status in a fantasy novel.  The point of view shifts so rapidly between the various characters, often similarly named, that it can be difficult to keep track of who is who without stopping to think.  The smaller plot points are predictable and familiar, although overall the novel is relatively unstructured and will rely upon subsequent volumes to provide a structure to these early events.

Unfortunately, Sorcery Rising does not merit reading the sequels in hardcover to discover that plot.  It is mediocre escapist fantasy, with little to set it apart from the pack save one of Whelan's usual exquisite cover paintings.  It is entertaining enough, but conveys the emotional impact of a limp noodle.

This entry was published Sat Jul 02 00:32:23 CDT 2005 by Matthew and last updated 2013-08-14 11:30:35.0.

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