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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Three Capsule Reviews 4 - "Gladiatrix, Prophets and Blood of Elves" (by Liviu Suciu)


INTRODUCTION: The three novels here were read sometime ago and I enjoyed all and wanted to write full reviews for them, but for various reasons I reviewed other books at the time.

While of three different genres in adventure fantasy, adventure sf and adventure historical fiction they share some characteristics in being the first novels in their respective series, with Sapkowski having two short story collections before - I read both, one in English, one in Spanish being untranslated so far in English - while Prophets has 7 previous novels set in the same universe which I also read all years ago on publication or close to, only Gladiatrix being a debut.

They are also fast paced novels that are page turners with lots of violence especially the last two. In what follows I present a "clean, edited" version of my "raw impressions" mini-reviews from the time of finishing each.

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Blood of Elves by Andrew Sapkowski

At the time I needed a lighter book and Blood of Elves was just the one; it took me a while and some fast browsing to get into it since Mr. Sapkowski' style (or the translation) is quirky, but then I started fully enjoying it and went back from the beginning as well as starting again Last Wish which thoroughly underwhelmed me on publication last year, probably because I did not have patience to get accustomed to it. After finishing Blood of Elves I summoned my rusty Spanish skills to read the second short collection "La Espada del Destino" and I started on the next novel "Tiempo de Odio" though I have not yet got seriously into it so far.

Blood of Elves has an unusual style compared to the "usual English language fantasy novel" with back and forth dialogue that strongly reminded me of childhood favorite author Karl May. The witcher, the magician and the "child of destiny" in a triangle of adventure, fate and intrigue with the big picture glimpsed in the background and machinations of the powerful on both sides.


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Prophets by S. Andrew Swann

I have been a fan of the Moreau/Confederacy series since way back in the early 90's, read all 8 books so far (4 Moreau, 3 Takeover + Prophets), almost all on publication, and I have enjoyed all of them with some small niggles- the last Rajahstan book is a bit redundant, though it's good to see the "old" guy back, and the Takeover ending was too open for the whole host of mysteries introduced.

However this one picks up on Bakunin, the "libertarian paradise" and the subject of the previous trilogy and then links with the original series in the character of Nikolai Rajahstan, scion
in disgrace of the Moreau royalty. "The Race", or at least its surviving AI's are back too with a vengeance!!

As usual, action galore, sense of wonder and a great series beginning
so the sequel is an asap when published.

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Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield

Very entertaining historical fiction of the "blood and guts" type with a twist - the title tells about the twist. Accurate historically - within novelistic license - but in terms of actions of the characters, their beliefs, I cannot fault anything major in the book.

A page turner also, it ends on a great note and promises much more to come with Lysandra aka "Achilia" of the title and the rest of the cast - the surviving ones of course. Excellent and another superior historical fiction showing how good the genre can be when done within the sensibility of the period, rather than a costume drama with modern anachronistic attitudes.

4 comments:

Mihai (Dark Wolf) said...

Liviu, I just finished "Blood of Elves" too. And I find to be an excellent novel, I enjoyed it in the fullest. I like Andrzej Sapkowski's works appealing greatly to me.
I went for my rough Spanish too, but for now I just practice it on Spanish soccer sites :)

Liviu said...

The next novel starts very well - picks up where Blood Elves ends with the Witcher looking for the bad guy who attacked him and obscuring the girl's whereabouts -the problem is that my reading skills in Spanish are marginal and it's "hard work".

I read Angel's Game in Spanish end to end and I "got it all" to my sort of surprise - I expected I missed something but when i read the recent English edition I remembered everything - but Tiempo de Odio probably will wait for the English translation next year

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, you don't see Karl May mentioned often in an English blog. I still have my collection though I'd need the space for other books. ;)

Liviu said...

I used to love Karl May as a child but I tried his work a while ago and it did not resonate that much, but I was struck by how the dialogue and description in Sapkowski is similar in style

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