I’ve been a Hamilton fan for many, many years, long before I started working at the book store. I’ve probably talked about this in my Anita Blake review, but even I knew nothing about this book. It was actually only a short while ago that I learned of this book, but didn’t know it was actually in publish any more. My best friend found a copy, the LAST copy, in a store she used to work in and bought it for me for my birthday.
Laurell K Hamilton’s debut novel. Originally published in 1992, a year before she published her first Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novel.
This novel is written in a very different style to what we are familiar with. It is written in 3rd person point of view, instead of being written through her characters, and it is a fantasy novel.
Reading this novel was interesting because you can see some influences for Anita Blake, and I also got to read one of my favorite authors before she hit it big.
Now, before I get into it, the book is NOT bad. I actually rather liked it, it was very interesting. But you could tell it was some of her first work, and still trying to figure out what style of writing was her strongest.
She always starts straight into a story, very heavily focused on her main protagonist. Usually that works, but because this is a fantasy based novel where she is world building, all it really did was confuse me. She made references to things and never really explained, and brought up lore and never really elaborated. Normally, that is fine because shortly after more information is added to elaborate on what was brought up. Instead more and more information is thrown at you without really explaining anything. Because of this, I felt like I was missing an entire book.
In her other series, there is no need for world building because it takes place in modern times in a real city. So she can focus heavily on plot and characters. When she does the same method in a world she is building, it leaves a lot of holes. Keleios is a rather vivid character that is well developed, but even with that, because there isn’t a lot of explanation to the world, certain traits don’t mean much. Half-elf princess, Herb-witch, Master; the magic system isn’t explained in more than handful of sentences, and the elves are known simply in the aspect that they’re there.
This, to me, drew away from the story because I was confused all of the time. But the plot was still well developed. A witch tortured and killed Keleios’ mother, and Keleios spent her life trying to seek revenge. There is another witch who apprenticed under the one who killed Keleios’ mother, who also spends her time trying to kill Keleios. Because of how confusing the magic system is, the plot lines surrounding a lot of the magic isn’t clear. Keleios is a prophet who prophesizes the falling of the Keep and the destruction of the library. She was good enough to be a Master, but in her 20’s, another style of magic emerged (which should have been impossible) and because she was brand new with it, the council stripped her of her Master’s title. This puts her in close proximity to the other witch trying to kill her.
All in all, it was a rather interesting story. There were a few irks I had that are basically just my personal preference (like when a character says “can you cast major healing?” I always expect the other character to respond “Let me roll this D20 and check!”), and there were some things in the story that I wished were explained in greater detail (I turned to my boyfriend and went “there are f*$%ing dragons in this story!!”).
I think this story would be really awesome if Hamilton rewrote it in her current style. It may help with the world building, and with her current knowledge of writing, make the story flow smoother and better.
Otherwise, fantasy fans might find this interesting, and I think this would be really interesting for fellow fans of Laurell K Hamilton to see where she started, and how far she has come and how her style changed so drastically in only a year!