Sunday, January 22, 2012

REVIEW: The High Lord by Trudi Canavan

I've had a bit of spare time over the last few days (including some very quiet reception shifts) and I was able to polish off the final book in the Black Magician trilogy, The High Lord by Trudi Canavan. I've made it my aim this year to finish off all the series I have left unread, in particular before I leave home for 8 months to work and travel on February 7th, so The High Lord is a small win!

This book followed on seamlessly from events in The Novice - even though a year has passed not much has changed. It was nice to see that the style and quality of the narrative and prose remained unchanged from the previous books - I've read a few series lately where everything has gone downhill in the last book, as if the reluctant author is being held at knife-point to finish it.

The pace of this book moved a lot faster (for the most part) than its predecessors. It seems that Canavan smartly divulged all the necessary exposition and information in books one and two, leaving the path clear for an action packed book three. The first third of the book is like one long climax, with several long-awaited revelations. There is a little lull in the middle with the obligatory 'traveling' chapters that seem to come with every fantasy book these days, but then things pick right back up again with a swift and dramatic conclusion.

As I mentioned in my review of The Novice, the linear and simple nature of this story is a welcome refreshment, but with the conclusion of the series, I do wish it had become a little more complex. I felt the struggles of the protagonists in the events at the end were a tad token - there was never any doubt that they would succeed. There was also never anything terribly unexpected or any great tragedy, which I think would have given it that extra oomph. 

The final fight got a little messy and confusing with the constant shift in points of view. While this was a welcome addition during the series, with each POV shifting slightly forward or backward in time, it really didn't do the final battle justice. Canavan was also not particularly creative with her use of offensive magic.

In terms of the story itself, I was extremely satisfied except for one element ... While I loved the evolution of the character of Akkarin, I was deeply put off by how his relationship with Sonea progressed. It felt it was unnecessary and unrealistic and thought something much more complex would be more suitable. Similarly, the relationship between Dannyl and Tayend was never evident in their actions ... it seems to me that romance and relationships are not Canavan's strong point and so most of it was left unsaid and unexplored.
In saying all this, I was very happy with the book overall and it is only in hindsight that I am picking it apart - the read itself was quite enjoyable. I will definitely be reading more Trudi Canavan, next time in the much nicer white covers!

Now I am going to try and finish off The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feis with Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon. Like The Black Magician trilogy, I read book one, Magician, years ago and never got around to reading the rest, even though I owned them.

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