Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Dragonspell - Katharine Kerr

For the first time in the Deverry series, all the action remains in the present day in Dragonspell rather than flitting back to fill gaps in the past, and the plot/pacing is all the tighter for it.

Rhodry has been sold as a slave on the Bardek islands, and one storyline follows his new life, intersected with information about Salamander and Jill chasing him down. Behind all this we discover more about the politics and machinations within the Hawks, the Brotherhood and, behind them all, the Old One - desperate enemy of Nevyn.

I really enjoyed the slow build and Jill's gradual realisation that the dweomer would be her future, no matter how much she wished otherwise. The climax to the Old One part of the story was very much D&D in nature (no real surprise considering Kerr's background in roleplaying games) and fairly purfunctory. No one was in any great danger, and everyone survived to live another day. What was more interesting was the final few chapters, where Jill makes the decision that releases Nevyn from his reckless vow and changes her life.

The sequence of four books are fairly generic fantasy, and certainly more groundbreaking fantasy has been produced since these. However, they should not be dismissed lightly. Kerr's writing is warm and welcoming. The characters are well-written and you care deeply about what happens to them. Kerr has told a fabulously rich story, which was improved immeasurably by the lack of a linear storyline.

I think that readers of any epic fantasy would gain a great deal of enjoyment from the Deverry series. Although I wish to all the Gods that the characters would stop tossing their heads to make a point!

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