One of the greater joys in my life is when I can look on my many bookshelves and see numerous books that I haven't read yet, and that I want to read next. I've got five of Janny Wurts' books sitting on my shelf. I've read two of them, and I'm a third of the way through the third. Sadly, Wurts' books are not an example of books that I am looking forward to read.
Don't get me wrong, I really love the series. It's clever and introduces themes and plot threads not normally seen in fantasy books. The characters are interesting and you like the characters you're supposed to like and dislike the characters you're supposed to dislike.
However they are really hard going. And I don't mean hard going in the sense that the Silmarillion is hard going. Wurts' creates a different type of hard going which leaves you utterly frustrated and bemused. It seems to me, as I recently told my girlfriend, that every character has the vocabulary and flowery speech of a bard. Whether they're a beggar or a wizard or a king in hiding, they all speak as if they're lives depend upon using the most possible words in once sentence.
On top of all that the story in the Ships of Merior lags dramatically at times. It seems that the whole purpose of this book was simply to put the characters back to the same place where they were at the beginning of the book. Unlike in the first book, Arithon doesn't acquire any new friends and Lysaer simply gets angrier.
And I'm sorry, but the idea that the curse has so thoroughly turned Lysaer against Arithon while leaving Arithon entirely aware of what is happening is far too convenient for my tastes.
That being said, the book does provide some wonderful pages of story. The relationship between Arithon and a local widow is lovely, if marred by haphazard overwriting. Dakar is continually thwarted by Arithon's smoother wit and intelligence and any scenes focused on ships and building ships is a win for me.
But I simply cannot get past the awkward overwriting, jumpy transitions and speech. Each book seems a chore to me, which is not what I want when I pick up a book. Given the choice, I'd say read the Silmarillion again!
Review by Joshua S Hill
7.2/10 from 1 reviews
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