Friday, January 2, 2015

Chaos is a highly appropriate title

I hope everyone had an excellent holiday season. During my lovely vacation from work, I took some time to read two books at once. A feat I had not challenged myself to since college. I had fiction reading for night time and non-fiction for the day. As usual, I progressed through the fiction quicker than the non-fiction. While the non-fiction is absolutely wonderful and fascinating, it provides so much food for thought I take my time reading.

Bird of Chaos by Susie Mander

I picked this novel because the author followed me on Twitter. I honestly try to get the authors who follow me into my to-read pile, and I am really hoping to find a new Australian author to replace the fabulous Sara Douglass. The review, however, will be very mixed. I tried to take some notes after I finished reading to make sure I captured everything today (now that I have a full computer back to write my review). What I found actually managed to surprise me. I had more items in the con column, yet I feel that the book is worth recommending. So allow me to clarify.

There were some seriously fantastic fantasy aspects to this novel. The author took the time to really create a new world strongly shaped from Greek mythology. However, this all had some serious ups and downs for me.

  • Tibuta has a very clear religious faction with a very well developed philosophy.  Characters are struggling with their understanding of tradition and evolution of culture and government. 
  • World creation is strong. While she may have been influenced by Ancient Greece, the author has developed an entire world that Tibuta interacts with; including cultures, races, species, and gods.
  • The plot takes some unexpected turns. I love when an author can through a curveball at me, and I am absolutely blind-sided.
Cons (unfortunately most of these are paired with the pros)
  • The species are randomly mentioned and poorly described. I never really felt connected to the richness of creation the author was attempting. It all just needed a little more oomph and some more detail.
  • The book seems to have feminist leanings with women being the key persons of power and authority; yet the author has managed to make the gender look foolish and incapable.
  • The main protagonist just really needs slapped in the face. Her growth (or lack thereof) is traumatic to the reader.
  • The Greek references are so thick and without explanation you may need a dictionary at times to clarify what is happening.
What I came away with at the end of this novel was a feeling of confusion. The cons seemed to outweigh the pros, yet I will consider reading the second novel. I think the author shows potential with this first novel and also some lessons that need to be learned. I'm not sure if there wasn't enough time at the editor or what, but there is such great promise with the world creation for this to turn into an amazing fantasy. I understand that you don't want to bog your readers down with detail and superfluous pages, but I really think this book could have used some extra padding with the foundation that had been laid.

Check out more details about the series from the Author's Blog.

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