Friday, 23 August 2013

Stained Glass Monsters

Title: Stained Glass Monsters
Series: Eferum #1
Author: Andrea K Höst
Pages: 246 (paperback)
Published: January 3rd 2011
Published by: ?

When a motionless woman dressed in white appears in the village of Falk, Kendall Stockton has no inkling that the strange apparition will soon leave her homeless, and tangled in the affairs of mages and monsters. For the white figure is the first sign of a spell which will shatter cities, and make the caster as powerful as the gods.

Saved by a stranger who claims her goal is to stop the woman, Kendall is torn between admiring the mage Rennyn Claire's strength, and doubting her methods. What is Rennyn willing to do to win? Do the best of intentions justify pragmatic sacrifice, or is Rennyn Claire no better than the monster she is trying to stop?

Kendall is a young girl trying to provide for herself in a small town after the death of her grandmother. After the appearance of a strange apparition on the town green, her life is tossed upside-down when a mysterious woman saves her life. The woman? Rennyn Montjuse-Surclare, one of only two people who know how to stop what is coming, what the appearance of the woman in white portents. Kendal is ripped from her quiet life and dragged away from all she's ever known to be taught (-ish, the school being a little busy with other things at the time) how to use magic she never knew she had. Meanwhile, Rennyn has to work out how to save Tyrland without betraying everything she is beginning to hold dear.


This is how this book starts, and in all honesty I very nearly stopped at that. I don't know why, but it just immediately put me off. In fact, I did stop reading after that first word, before coming back to it a couple of weeks later, determined to give it a chance to redeem itself.

Luckily for the book, it recovered well from it's bad first impression, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't really follow the magic system at all and found the sometimes quite lengthy passages explaining it all a bit boring and difficult to grasp, but the story itself was good. Maybe I skimmed over an important part and so missed something, but I found it difficult to differentiate between symbolic and...darn I had the word a second ago sygillic magics. The system itself doesn't seem to be that complicated: forcing power into written symbols (symbolic/sygillic) and thought magic produced by the will of the caster alone.

The pacing was generally good, although periods of a day or two were sometimes skipped over with nothing to tell you so except their arrival at a place, or the commencement of an event. I found this a little jarring at times having to reorient myself almost in the world. And not everything was revealed at once - you find out more and more about what's going on throughout, and the...not exactly twists, but hidden things keep this going right up until the final pages. This means that you never really know what's going to happen - always a good thing in my mind.

The world itself reminded me a little of The Demon Cycle books by Peter V. Brett. World invaded by demons at night; towns defended by protective magic circles based on symbols. Of course, other than these basic similarities the two stories have little else in common so I wasn't left that the books were too similar or anything.

None of the characters are particularly outstanding, but they're all likeable enough even with their flaws. And most of the central characters do have noticeable flaws, significant but not major enough to make them annoying or anything. And they're always understandable flaws, rooted in the characters' past. Rennyn is very bossy and always thinks she's right. True, most of the time she is, and given the burden she's had to bear all her quite short life and the position she finds herself in now, that's completely understandable. Kendall is very similar in that she knows her own mind, but she is very strong-willed to the point where she struggles to accept help from anyone. Again, understandable given how she's grown up.

An enjoyable book, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the release of the sequel.

No comments:

Post a Comment