My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have to admit, first time I tried reading this book I did not get past the first dozen or so pages. The beginning of the story has a certain tediousness to it, and the author's prose, while good, doesn't have that quality that can make a pleasure of otherwise drab passages.
But this time around I resolved to push past that, and I was glad to do so. Mostly because Ista was a pleasure to read. The other characters were mostly entertaining, mind you, but it was Ista, her personality, her inner voice, her struggles and her history that captivated me.
If you read the first book you know more or less who she is, you know of her madness, etcetera.
What this book explores can best be surmised the following words:
“Once, she had been her parents' daughter. Then great, unlucky Ias's wife. Her children's mother. At the last, her mother's keeper. Well, I am none of these things now. Who am I, when I am not surrounded by the walls of my life?”
And so Ista goes on a pilgrimage meant to escape this void that is her life, with no more plan than to stray as far as possible from those walls that had held her for so long and would still do so, even as they hold no meaning any more. And then, of course, things happen.
I usually enjoy stories with multiple points of view, but fortunately, we are never left to wander in the bland waters of less interesting characters' murky viewpoints here, though I admit I would have liked to learn more about Jojen, be it by visiting her viewpoint or somehow else. I really did not fancy her resolution at all.
But that is a safely minor point in the grand scheme of things.
Carrying on, one thing I would advice people is to not worry about where everything is going. This is, more than anything else, a character-driven story and the travel is in a way the destination. (not that there isn't a very real and satisfying destination at the end, but you get the point. Hopefully) I say this because things can feel a little bumbling and a little random at times, but I think it is safe to say that by the end everything will be accounted for, and there's really nothing that happens without a particular reason or to set up something for later on. So read on, and enjoy!
Not the best fantasy writer in terms of prose, but not the worst either. People who shy away from the more elaborate and wordy fantasy authors are probably going to like her style much more, though.
It was decent enough, specially after things were established.
The plot by itself is not the greatest thing ever, but in execution it is made very enjoyable by the vividness of its main character.
I've honestly never become too invested in the world in which the stories take place. We never really get to know it too terribly well, and are only ever afforded a few scant details about it. Half-tempted to give it two stars instead of three, really.
If you've read this far, then this should not come as a surprise. The definite jewel of this books is Ista's characterisation thorough. And she in turns make the whole of the book interesting. So of course she gets a five out of five.
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