RogerBW's Blog

Circle of the Moon, Barbara Hambly 01 October 2014

Sequel to Sisters of the Raven. The new female wizards, and the king their patron, have to cope with dream-communications of suffering from abroad, a possible magical assassin, some new kind of plague that is wiping out villages, and the king's re-coronation ordeal (which was easier to fake back when magic was reliable).

Somehow it's just slightly too many things all at once, especially since several of them are left unresolved at the end. It's true that many of these crises are arising now because of the change in magic, and part of the tension is generated by the need to spread the small number of new magicians across the huge field of things that are going wrong, but I got a distinct feeling of the same problem that hits in many first fantasy novels: there is magic in the world, you've got to help save it, and it's all going to happen tomorrow.

Frankly I found this book a bit of a slog, especially in the first half, though things pick up a bit around the mid-point; there's a great deal of atmospheric doom and gloom, something Hambly's very good at, but it doesn't always make for enjoyable reading. We also see significant factionalisation among the mages, which was probably inevitable but is still depressing. There's lots of blood and grime and soul-eating.

The book's plot rests to a large extent on keeping secrets from the reader, one of them (to do with the nature of the teyn, the non-human slave class) being something I'd really been expecting to be revealed in the first book, while another is hard to work out unless you've cheated by reading the title. The usual problem applies: if the reader works out the answers before the protagonists, the latter seem stupid, or in this case orchestrated, as person A has to be manipulated by the author into seeing thing B before coming to realisation C even though she could have worked it out for herself before that just as the reader had.

It may be cruel to accuse the author of a southern Californian viewpoint because she never once considers the possibility that maybe the middle of a desert isn't really the best place for a huge city. The best available solution is an aqueduct, to steal water from somewhere else. The world's curiously empty; there are mysterious and primitive nomads out in the desert, but very little said about the people with whom the rich merchants of the city actually trade.

Definitely don't read this one before Sisters of the Raven. If you loved that, give this a go, but more in order to re-visit the characters than for the compelling story.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1