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Posts Tagged ‘Historical Fantasy’

Night of the Wolf by Alice BorchardtNight of the Wolf

by
Alice Borchardt

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
While I recall the first of this series thrilling me with its Roman historicity and intrigue, I am left wondering if I enjoyed it so much because it was several years ago and my reading tastes were not nearly as refined, nor my sense of literary excellence so sharply honed. Borchardt really shares quite a lot with her sister Anne Rice in regards to style, meaning she tends toward the overwrought and over done. I wanted more from her characters, was rather bored with the usage of Caesar as a character and the plotting surrounding him, and felt like the historical detailing of food distracted from the flow of the novel – especially as I flipped through my unabridged Oxford dictionary to find out what piece of a pig’s lower intestine they were consuming.

The wolfish perspective provided by Maeniel, the dark gray eyes of innocence who transitions from wolf to man, was the most fascinating part of the novel, something I enjoyed because urban fantasy written now is almost entirely built upon humans becoming wolves and not the other way around, something I’ve always felt was lacking. The potential for using that perspective as a commentary on our world is vast, but unfortunately, Borchardt did so only shallowly.

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Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline CareyNaamah’s Kiss

by

Jacqueline Carey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After Santa Olivia, Carey’s stature as my favorite author was assured. Naamah’s Kiss carved that distinction into marble. Any successive contenders for favorite author will have tall plinths to ascend before their names can be carved near the zenith.

Departing chronologically but not spiritedly from my beloved characters in the Kushiel’s Legacy, this generational descendant retains the compassion and character and thrill and intelligence of its predecessors. Rather than merely reacquaint us solely with D’Angeline society as it has progressed over four generations, Carey starts us in the wilds of Alba with a descendant of Alais, now referred to as Alais the Wise, who is part of a family branch that followed the isolationist nature of the still mistrusted Maghuinn Donn: Moirin, great granddaughter to my beloved princess who matured to inspire Alba.

Alais’ great granddaughter has no less a grand destiny to fulfill; indeed, it is this destiny that fuels her outward exploration. Thematically central, the thread of destiny remains ever present to Moirin as she literally feels her destiny respond to the courses she ponders. It is this internal compass that propels or hinders her along the way, the impetus that sends her beyond one ocean to Terre d’Ange, and then beyond a greater ocean to distant and newly connected, yet forbidding Ch’in.

Magic is much more prevalent for Moirin and a greater factor in Naamah’s Kiss, taking on a larger presence than in the Kushiel’s Legacy sextuplet. Moirin lives with magic, having inherited through her ancestry from Alais and the Maghuinn Donn gifts that many thought lost. She hears the call of the bear goddess of the Maghuinn Donn, but also feels and is guided by the presence of the D’Angeline consorts Naamah and Anael. Weaving together with her demanding destiny, this exploration of magic and divinity compels a significant part of the story and positions Moirin in spheres of intrigue and power to which her naivete is quickly forced to adapt.

Despite her humble upbringing in the wilds of Alba, or perhaps due to it, Moirin has a lusty desire to learn, explore her nature, and follow the call of her destiny. This often manifests as a stubborn streak, which combines with her naive charm to engender a new character Carey has created that has stolen my heart. Methinks Naamah would be especially pleased by this.

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