Here be Dragons

The land of Ile-Rien is under attack by the seemingly invincible Gardier, who use their black airships to destroy, then seemingly disappear.  The Gardier also somehow have the ability to block all the magic the Ile-Rien have for protection, and they also have a magic of their own that destroyed mechanized weapons.

Invincible army, one person holds an object of power, a person may wonder why I even cracked the cover of what seems like a very trite read.  I admit at times in the book I wondered the same thing.  There is some interesting stuff in this book, and in many ways it pushes beyond the cliches, but I can’t say it ever grabbed me.

What worked well in this book?  It had some unusual hooks.  The main character, Tremaine, is looking for a way to keep herself in danger, a death wish without the desire for people to know it.  This keeps her early motivations mysterious(though this plot line is almost completely discarded by the mid point).  Both the Ele-Rien and the Gardier are living a technological era where magic is in use everyday, not hidden from the common eye.  And there is an early culture clash when it is found the the Gardier hold a staging area in a land with a more “primitive” culture.

For all that almost nothing worked for me.  There just wasn’t the focus needed to make any thing work, none of the good ideas were really expanded on.  Tremaine has a death wish, but it is gone  halfway through the book, then explained away at the end.  Not transitioned out, just explained away.  The interesting first contact plot line is ruined for me by the ease of communication and by just how little difference there really is in the cultures, despite the characters seeming to think otherwise.  And the neat mix of technology and magic comes to nothing, as magic rules throughout the entire book.  The Gardier are given no depth, they are a faceless evil.  The “primitives” are shallow, following the typical book wherein they need to have all their traditions proven to be wrong by a more knowing culture.

The book could not seem to decide what it wanted to be.  At times high fantasy, escape story, war story, epic quest, and even a sad attempt at subversive espionage activities.  Perhaps if the focus had been on a couple of these items it would have worked better, but none were expanded on enough to catch my interested, making the whole read fairly disjointed. 

Lastly, and this is neither good nor bad, this book is definitely the first in a series.  There is very little resolution in this book, it is obviously a setup for the future.

And for perhaps the strangest nit-pick I have every had, every male character of note in the book had a name that started with either A, I, or G(mostly G).  Gardier, Giliead, Gerard, and Gervas.  I am not sure if anyone else reads the way I do, but this caused me to backtrack and figure out which character is which several times.

2 stars.  I can see it being of interest for fans who want something different, but for me it tried too many things, and did very few of them very well.  

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