Archive for Amanda Downum

kingdoms of dust [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2017 by xi'an

Kingdoms of Dust is the third (and last?) book in the Isyllt Iskaldur (Necromancer) series, written by Amanda Downum. I had enjoyed very much the previous two volumes and was not aware of the existence of a third one, existence I only realised a few weeks ago when I prepared a bulk amazon associate ordering for my trip to Harvard. While being reunited with several characters from the previous books made reading Kingdoms of Dust definitely enjoyable, I found the plot too dry [no pun intended!] and the civilisation exposed through the story fairly caricaturesque, an almost Disneyesque Arabian universe whose economics remain unspecified. Which seems to happen a lot these days with the theme of warrior desert tribes with proto-Muslim religion(s) taking a share of the fantasy literature (as in the Demon Cycle and the Godspeaker trilogy). What I appreciated more was the psychological evolution of the main character Iskaldur from depression to an almost Christ-esque role, liberating most of the other major characters in the story. And the feature that somewhow there was no superlatively evil enemy to defeat, but a conjunction of ill-timed events to unravel.

The Necromancer Chronicles (vol. 1 & 2)

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by xi'an

   
Once more, I have to thank my colleague from Paris-Dauphine for introducing to a new fantasy series. I found those two volumes by Amanda Downum in my mailbox a few weeks ago and set them aside for later reading (as I was not very impressed by the covers…) Then, one evening, I started reading the first volume, The Drowning City, on the way home, in a particularly crowded metro train. This did not make me miss my train stop, but I realised I had better change my a prioris about the novel! I read The Drowning City within a week and, while there were dead ends and imperfections, I like the very refreshing style of the novel, the mix of cultures, the complexity of the characters, whose feelings and attitudes were definitely not of the binary type. While I was somehow disappointed by the finale of The Drowning City, as it called to an alien deus ex machina that the rest of the story had not announced, and while I found the main character, Isyllt Iskaldur (what a terrific find for a name!), was getting away from failure a wee too easily, I was sufficiently hooked to move to the second volume, The Bone Palace, immediately. To my surprise (given my prior on second volumes in trilogies), I ended up liking it even better, the style and story-telling being more mature and better constructed than in the first volume. The story once again features Isyllt Iskaldur, with the same background as in The Drowning City, but it also introduces several major characters, most of them female, on both the “good” and the “bad” sides, which are equally deep, even though not all of them survive the 480 pages of the book! The description of the society where the action takes place is quite convincing, if a wee too modern for medieval fantasy, the magical sides of the story are well-designed and mostly subtle (except for the über-evil all-powerful sorceress central to this volume), once again the feelings and connections between characters are deep and complex and engaging (if definitely unusual for some central characters), and The Bone Palace overall makes for a great (adult) read! Even on a stand-alone basis.