Archive for Karen Miller

A blight of mages

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , on April 20, 2013 by xi'an

This Blight of Mages is the fifth book by Karen Miller in the “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” series. (I realise I only reviewed The Prodigal Mage, having no memory whatsoever of the fourth volume, The Reluctant Mage… Either I did not read it or it was truly below my reviewing standards!) While I much preferred The Gospeaker tirlogy for its more involved plot and more imaginative universe, the first two books in the series were enjoyable enough, if light. This one is actually a prequel that explains a lot of the background in the earlier [in print] or later [in time] novels, as the central characters, Barl and Morgan, reappear as legendary figures in those. However, I had forgotten so much about those books that it took me quite a while (and a spoiler on the backcover!) to realise this was the case! Nonetheless, the book reads on its own (as it should, being a prequel!), as demonstrated by my son reading through in a few days. It also suffers from the same defects as the remaining books in the series, namely that the action is very slow, the dialogues are very heavy and repetitive, and the plot is even more predictable than earlier! Without being much of a spoiler (but be warned nonetheless!), given the front and back covers, and even more the contents of the earlier/later novels if you managed to recall their plots to some extent, Barl and Morgan are going to meet and wreck havoc on the local society and on the nature of Doranean magic by attempting prohibited experiments, Barl realising her “mistake” at the end and trying to atone for it, while Morgan turns mad and unstoppable. Several reviewers criticised Miller’s style for being full of clichés and I fear that, for this volume, it is particularly the case… The dialogues are utterly predictable, the characters are mostly caricaturesque, and the unfolding of the story is rather clear from the first dozen pages, except for the last part maybe. (Oh, and by the way, the cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the story!) I am thus quite surprised at the book being ranked highest in the series on Amazon. (Even with one reader being clearly happy at this book being single and not the beginning of another duology!)  And people raving at the author’s “incredible fantasist writing skills”… Conclusion: Not recommended. Even for hardcore fantasy aficionados.

And the cover is…just as ugly!

Posted in Books, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by xi'an

The cover for the final volume of Robert Jordan’s and Brandon Sanderson‘s the Wheel of TimeA Memory of Light, has just appeared. Although the artist has changed, from Darrell K. Sweet who passed away before completing his cover to Michael Whelan, I find the cover as appalling as the previous thirteen covers in the series… With the same frozen features and caricaturesque characters, unrealistic depictions (look at the way Rand holds this sword!) and women at the back. I know, I know, I should not expect highly creative covers for fantasy books, but other recent books have managed much better, from Sanderson’s Mistborns (other series of Sanderson do not succeed so well, incl. Elantris) to Abercrombie’s trilogy (and his The Heroes), admittedly the coolest covers so far, to Morgan’s The Steel Remains, to Karen Miller’s series of The prodigal mage … Even the alternative e-book covers for  the Wheel of Time are quite acceptable, so I really wonder why the publisher sticks at those ugly and outdated covers.  Anyway, this is now a sort of tradition! The final volume is planned for early January 2013, which is in tune with what Brandon Sanderson told us last year when giving a public lecture in Paris. There is much expectation about this book, the culmination of a series I started reading more than 20 years ago!

The prodigal mage

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , on August 24, 2010 by xi'an

“Children. How empty our lifes would be without them…and how much less painful.” The prodigal mage

While staying in Yosemite, I read The prodigal mage by Karen Miller. This is a sequel to the Kingmaker Kingbreaker books that I appreciated, even though they were not without flaws. (I prefer the Godspeaker trilogy by the same author, as explained in this post.) This new series of two books has kept the same setting as the initial series, starting with a weak idea that occurs in many sequels, namely that the evil entity the hero(s) must fight is not really dead/destroyed/gone… The (relative) appeal of this new book is that the hero (Asher) is getting old and bad-tempered, as well as more and more reluctant to use his magical powers and that his son Rafel has inherited those powers and does not understand why he could not use them. So, while the overall story is a bit thin, the family plot offers some interest as to the conflict of generations (at least to me as a parent!). Obviously, The prodigal mage is not written by Victor Hugo so the style is not always perfect, with some heavy going dialogues, but this makes for a good vacation read. The second part, The reluctant mage, is already out in hardcover. It (predictably) centers on Rafel’s sister, Deenie, who is also endowed with special powers she’d rather do without, reproducing the pattern observed in her father. However, I will wait for the paperback version and future vacations, looking forward reading soon the third and alas not  last part of Shadowmarch by Tad Williams (which shares a lot with this series, even though the local universe is deeper and more interesting).