The Summer Palace: Volume Three of the Annals of the Chosen Hardcover – Jun 10 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The final segment of the Annals of the Chosen trilogy (after 2007's The Ninth Talisman) successfully mixes intrigue and adventure with ruminations on the nature of power and heroes. The Council of Immortals made the Chosen responsible for removing the ruling Wizard Lord if he should ever stray from just governance of Barokan, but the current Wizard Lord, Artil im Salthir, has killed or run off most of the Chosen, leaving Sword, the Chosen Swordsman, alone to plot his revenge. After a lonely winter hiding out in the Wizard Lord's Summer Palace, investigating the big flightless birds called ara and their natural ability to inhibit magic, Sword prepares to strike, with help from the local spirits and an unlikely alliance with one of the Wizard Lord's own henchmen. Readers who appreciate thoughtfully drawn characters and settings will enjoy this story of justice and revenge in an ever-evolving world. (June)
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“Fans of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance saga will find this series much to their taste.”--Publishers Weekly
“The deliberately archetypal Chosen are not without individual character, thanks to Watt-Evans' dry wit, and the Wizard Lord isn't a standard magical potentate. But he is treading a classic path for his ilk by introducing technology that may conflict with magic--how deeply is the Chosen's current and probably future concern in the gifted, prolific Watt-Evans' promising new series.”--Booklist
“Veteran SF and fantasy author Watt-Evans (The Obsidian Chronicles) displays his command of the fantasy genre in this fast-paced, fluidly told sequel to The Wizard Lord.”--Library Journal
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In addition, the characters are remarkably slow and dim-witted. I figured out every single plot twist and problematic plan pages in advance of the characters in the story. Essentially reading this book amounted to me wading through pages of repetitious ruminations waiting for the characters to figure out what should have been obvious from page one. All in all, much as I like the work of Watt-Evans, I cannot recommend the series. Book one is a good read; a self-contained and interesting story. I would recommend you read that and skip the rest. If you are particularly bored you might try to get the books from the library, but frankly I am not sure they are worth even that limited time commitment.
The book's main flaw is that for a very large part of it, protagonist Sword is alone with his own thoughts, wintering in a building designed for warm weather use only, on an incredibly cold plateau - with little food or fuel for warmth. The lack of interaction with other people makes it boring. The fact that Sword's situation isn't a heroic survival story but a stupid blunder made by someone who should have known better makes it annoying - to this reader, anyway.
The reason after all that Sword is alone is that no one does winter on the plateau. Not even its hardy native population. Certainly not lowlanders such as Sword himself. Sword's plan, if it may be called that, consists of his forcing himself on the native population, demanding that they train him in how to live up there, telling everybody why he wants to spend the winter there (so that he can kill a dictatorial ruler when the dictator returns the next summer), and blithely assuming no one will give him away. Sword's every choice is so bad that I found myself wanting him to fail.
I think I saw in the deterioration of this series the same features that marred his prior Dragon series. I'm guessing that Watt-Evans's interest in a created world quickly wanes after he has finished a satsifactory novel set in it. So although he may be contracted for a three-book series and have to go through the motions in deleivering the next two, his heart and his mind aren't in it. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the simplest explanation I can think of for why The Wizard Lord and Dragon Weather are so superior to the other four books in those two series.
The Annals of the Chosen is a rather tepid series. The concept is solid - I liked the idea of the checks and balances of The Chosen versus The Wizard Lord, and the way ler played such a role in world. But where this book (and series) fell apart, for me, is with the characters. There simply isn't a likeable or engaging one in the entire trilogy.
I'm not sure if Harriet dear actually read this book - one can never tell from her reviews, since they basically seem to be a review of the dust jacket - but "Sword" as about as simpering, inane and idiotic protagonist as I've ever read. The entire book seemed like one paragraph being written over and over again. "I need to kill the Wizard Lord, but I'm not sure why, and he's pretty good for Barokan, but he killed two of the Chosen, but ..." Seriously - by the the middle of the book I was hoping one of the uplanders ran him through with a spear and the book just ended.
By the end of the book, I wasn't sure why the Wizard Lord deserved to die, I didn't care whether he - or anyone else - did, and I didn't believe any of the characters motivations for doing anything.
The book had a rushed and hurried feeling; like it was being rushed out the door to meet a deadline (or collect a paycheck). Normally, a "sub par" book by a favorite author still garners a good review from me, but not this one. I loved The Obsidian Chronicles, but this book - and this series in general - earns a big pass from me.
If you need a break from reading complex, engaging and truly epic fantasy (like Steven Erikson's Malazan series, or George RR Martins Song of Ice and Fire), there are many better options than this series. I'd look to anything by Ray Feist, or the new series by newcomer Joe Abercrombie. All are better paced, with deeper characters and more flow.
Sorry Lawrence ... hope you come back strong.
The place he has to flee to is almost impossible to survive in the winter, and he is headed into the heart of the cold season.
Evans manages to make the fight for survival interesting, and he develops the set up and the passage well. I was worried what he would do to fill up the book space, so to speak, and he manages to do that well.
He also manages to resolve the "bad guy" or "not so bad" guy issues well, reconcile some people, pull together a solid plot and make it an enjoyable read.
I'm not sure where the one guy got the thought that the book is all angst, that is a small sub-plot and not overused. The difficulties are real, the issues make sense, the development continues and the book wraps the series well.
All in all I was pleased with the read, even if I paid for a new copy when the book came out.
I'd recommend it as a Watt-Evans fan or to anyone who gets the book recommended by Amazon (if it fits your profile).