Friday, December 19, 2008

Sorcerer Review by Guest Blogger Blair

DH has stepped in today to be a guest blogger, and write a review. The book he chose is The Sorcerer, Vol. 1: The Fort at River's Bend by Jack Whyte. I am pleased he did, as this is not the type of book I read, or would review, I feel it will add something to Lissa's Long Yarn.

The Sorcerer volume 1: The Fort at River’s Bend by Jack Whyte

Plot Synopsis: Caius Merlyn Britanicus, must leave Camulod to protect and educate his young cousin Arthur. He leaves Camulod in the care of his brother Ambrose and travels north along the coast with his most trusted advisers and friends to Ravenglass. There he encounters Derek the man who killed Arthur’s father and mother and must seek sanctuary. Merlyn is able to secure use of a fort high in the mountains. Over the next five years he sets about training Arthur in some of the skills he will require to become High King.

Opinion: While I love the story and the writing is amazing I am beginning to get bogged down in the shear length of it. This is technically the fifth book in series it is the sixth I have read (Uther happens contemporaneously with Eagles Brood.) What makes this so monumental is that almost every detail and character in each of the 500+ page books is or will be important, to the point where one begins to read a lot into everything. Of course this really is my only complaint on the whole series. The style of a first person narrator, in this case Merlyn makes the story very immediate and interesting. The time period and location also draw me in deeply. In this book we get to see a very different Merlyn. Mostly removed from the duties of Camulod and dealing with the very real need to keep his and Arthur’s identities secret, Merlyn adopts the guise of Cay. Cay is meant to be a simple wandering farmer with a young ward. Of course Merlyn is no farmer and any visitor to the fort with half a brain can see that every one defers to Merlyn.

The book begins with the arrival of Merlyn and his party in Ravenglass. This part drags a bit as initially Derek refuses to give Merlyn sanctuary (but the reader knows he will eventually relent.) He does and we move on to the Fort from the title. It is a real life place (part of the interest for me) that sits high in a mountain pass. The fort is refurbished and made livable again in time for winter. The bathhouse becomes an important location in the fort (the Roman obsession with bathhouses.) Many vital discussions happen here. We get a great deal of development on Arthur in this book as well. We see the development of Arthur’s sense of justice and military tactics, often baffling his elders. Also we discover Merlyn does not have leprosy and he finds a new love in Tressa.

Overall the book was very good, I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading the next in the series.

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