Banewreaker: Volume I of The Sundering Mass Market Paperback – Jul 28 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Following her well-received Kushiel's Legacy trilogy (Kushiel's Dart, etc.), bestseller Carey takes a daringly different tack in the first of a new epic fantasy series that focuses on seven gods rather than an ingratiating human heroine like the trilogy's Phèdre nó Delaunay. Readers may be overwhelmed at first by the vast cast of larger-than-life characters, including many exotic creatures, fanged, toothed and winged, but as the gods and their assorted hangers-on behave more like real people than mythic heroes, they gain in sympathy. Haomone, the eldest of the seven gods, and one of his younger brothers, Satoris, who sundered the earth with his sword, are in rebellion. Satoris's primary lieutenant, Tanaros Blacksword, who has lived 1,000 bitter years after killing his unfaithful wife and her lover, his king, endures the irony that he must kidnap but safeguard her beautiful descendant, Cerelinde, who is about to be married. The poignancy of Tanaros's situation is palpable but never overplayed. Also moving is the plight of Lillias, a beautiful sorceress also a millennium old, enamored of Callendor, a colossal dragon. Perhaps nowhere in fiction is a dragon described as remarkably or as lovingly, a creature of unbelievable power yet also of gentle tenderness. This is a memorable beginning to what should be another strong series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Shapers' War has divided Urulat. Third Born Satoris has been thrown to one side of the great Sundering Sea with all Urulat's creatures, his six Shaper siblings to the other, separated from their creations. For ages, Satoris is content to sit in Darkhaven, his fortress, but when a new prophecy declares that the world can be healed with Satoris' death, he gathers forces to defend himself. To prevent a powerful, dangerous alliance, and with the help of Lilias the sorceror and the dragon Calendor, Satoris kidnaps Cerelinde, the lady of Ellylon, on the day of her marriage. The gentle Cerelinde has unforeseen effects on Darkhaven residents, however, that ultimately and irrevocably change their destinies. Carey's formal style, at first distancing, proves perfect for setting the tone for a grand epic and narrating the mythic lives of the larger-than-life Shapers. Its consistency and artistry form a strong frame for showcasing Carey's intimate development of deeply wounded, sometimes deeply flawed, yet utterly dignified and sympathetic characters--some of the best dragons in all fantasy literature. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Here is a novel much more along the typical fantasy line than Carey's last series (Kushiel's Dart, et al), which I enjoyed, and which had a vague hint of epistemological depth in its exploration of angelic and celestial themes. For me, someone who adores the "typical fantasy line" - I mean, if you are tired of gods and dragons, why did you even pick it up? - it's great stuff. The world of this novel was created by the Seven Shapers, who are demi-gods. Here again is Carey's fascination with the human characterization of divinity, and with human interaction with the celestial, definitely one of the strongest factors of interest in her writing.
There is definitely interest in the concept and even some ties to Hindu philosophy in the way that Carey ties each of her Shapers to a particular human attribute; the Eldest is the Lord of Thought, the Second the Bestower of Love, the Third is the Sower - who bestows the urge to procreate. This is an interesting mythology, and certainly one that I find thought-provoking and original. The war of the Shapers, and how it plays out between the races of Ellylon, Men, Were, Fjell, Dwarfs (all created by the Shapers), is the premise of the book. What is even more interesting is the point of view of the novel.
Satoris Third-Born, the Sower and the "Sunderer of the World", the dark lord that others compare to Sauron of Middle Earth, centers the main storyline. He is a sympathetic character, and those surrounding him are the main protagonists of this novel. Here is a philosophical demi-god unto whom was made an unreasonable request - to withdraw his gift - the urge to procreate - from the race of Mankind - and who denied, at the cost of his Gift itself, all the regard of all the races, and the wrath of his siblings. I suspect that there are strong metaphysical reasons, only hinted at in the beginning of this series, for his actions.
There are many other tragic storylines that create sympathy for the other main "evil" characters, and very little characterization of those who fight for "Good", personified by "the Lord of Thought". Carey's subtext is not only a metaphysical hint to the mastery of the other senses over thought itself, it is a subtle commentary on any who identify with a majority unthinkingly. There is also a strong cyclical nature to the mythology of this book, as identified by the deep and abiding knowledge of the dragons, who maintain that though Satoris has sundered the world, only in sundering can it be made whole again. The mystical nature of this cycle is, again, very metaphysical.
And, oh! The dragons! This characterization of dragons may just be the most moving I have read in many years, bestowing on them such tremendous wisdom, terrible beauty, and wonderful capriciousness. The dragons alone may just be worth the read.
In short, I think it's a fascinating read, with many levels on which it can be enjoyed, and I favor it over Carey's other work. I look forward to reading the next installment!
With BANEWREAKER Carey has created a masterpiece of subjective views, of double moral standards and of the loss of innocence and honour. It is great in its own way and I hope the sequel GODSLAYER will fulfill my high expectations.
After getting 50 pages in and letting the book sit for several weeks (shocking enough by itself, for me) I finally finished it today. It took longer than it should have to draw me in, but it finally did so, although never completely.
The main problem, I think, is that she elected to work out her ideas about the polarization of good and evil in a mishmash of every High Fantasy world that's been created in the last 100 years. You'd have to be stone blind to miss the Tolkienisms, and another reader noted the significant similarity to Eddings' books. She admits in her own website blog that she did this deliberately, which mollified some of my pique - she wasn't just being oblivious or stupid. However, the fact that she used this *very* heavily-traveled structure is the thing that seems to irritate us the most. Her ideas are great, and I'm particularly drawn to the idea that "evil" is often a necessary reaction against the velvet tyranny of "good". However, she could have worked this out in a number of different models that all would have met with less resistance from readers.
The number of characters complaint surprised me - every single Kushiel book throws new people at you by the dozen. I think the difference is that she paints her people less vividly in this world - her whole style, including the third-person perspective, is much more stark and clipped than the lush vividness of Terre d'Ange through Phedre's eyes. The characters take longer to come to life, and therefore it's much harder to keep track of who everyone is and why they're important. Tanaros is the only one who came alive for me immediately; even Satoris is more absent than present, for all that it's really his story!
When all is said and done, though, Carey writes better than most and her work is still solidly enjoyable. I admire her greatly for doing what she's done here - she could have cranked out a dozen Terre d'Ange books to the same roaring acclaim that the first three produced before attempting to explore a different direction. It took a lot of courage to follow her own ideas, in a direction I'm sure she knew would not be as well-received, so soon after her initial triumph.
The first book in the Imriel trilogy is done, and we'll get that one in early 2006, according to her website. I know they will have a different flavor, but I have little doubt that they will be just as spectacular as the Phedre books - she has set up a whole host of interesting and thorny issues to play out, and Imriel is already a magnificent character. For all of us Terre d'Ange junkies, that will keep us going. In the meantime, I'll look forward to Godslayer so I can at least see what happens in this story, and I'll continue to look forward to any of Jacqueline Carey's work.
Carey uses certain elements recognizably borrowed from Tolkien: differing races of Elves (called Ellyl, the Welsh word for elf), Men, Dwarfs, Fjeltroll, and shapeshifting, predatory Were; a world in which mortals and immortals inhabit different continents, separated by a Sundering Sea; a dark lord brooding in his mountain fastness; a band of representatives of the different races toiling together on a quest. She combines these elements, however, with a cosmology that seems to be influenced by Zoroastrian and Indo-Iranian mythology, in which Uru-Alat the World God gives birth, in his death, to Seven Shapers, one of whom, Satoris the Sower, the giver of sexual desire and generation, falls at odds with the others. As in the Kushiel books, she borrows existing languages for her peoples; the trolls seem to speak Norwegian, the Ellylon (Elves) Welsh.
It is typical of Carey that sexuality plays an important role in the story--it is the giver of sexual desire who is demonized and exiled from the angelic ranks, and Satoris has an unhealing wound in his thigh which brings to mind the wounded Fisher King of Grail mythology. I hope that she will bring this theme more to the fore in the second half of the story and use it as her tool for exploring the root question, Are you evil if everyone says you are evil? And by extension, is sexuality evil because everyone condemns it?
I feared I would not like this book, precisely because I loved the Kushiel trilogy so very much, but I hated to finish it and can't wait until its sequel Godslayer comes out in August.