Book Review: Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan

Priestess of the White is the first book in the Age of the Five fantasy series by Trudi Canavan.

Auraya, a girl from Hania, very quickly rises up the ranks of priestesses.  Within ten years she becomes one of the Gods’ Chosen, that is, one of the Gods chosen representatives, of which there are five, the same number as the Circlian Gods.  The Gods’ Chosen not only serve as religious leaders; they also have a very prominent political role to fulfil.  Now, as Auraya of the White, she lives in the White Tower in Jarime and is granted many gifts and magical powers.

One of her first tasks is that of negotiating an alliance with a distant land, as it has been revealed to the Chosen that the Gods wish for the people of Ithania to unite.  But as Auraya goes about her work, it is clear that she doesn’t see the world and the people in it as the other of the Gods’ Chosen do, or even some of the common folk.  Those who do not follow their path and their ways are often viewed with distrust and suspicion.  That isn’t Auraya’s way.

Not only does Auraya have work to do, but she must also learn how to use some of these newly bestowed gifts.  However, she doesn’t have long to get used to the change she has undergone.  Rumours abound that black-robed sorcerers are terrorising land to the south.  They shouldn’t be a match for the Gods’ Chosen though; their gods are the only real ones in existence after the Circlian deities defeated the others.  However, it’s not as easy and convincing as it should have been.  These black-robed sorcerers are the heralds of revelation: war and a clash of beliefs is on the way.  How will the newest of the Gods’ Chosen cope?

And as these black-robed sorcerers, or Pentadrians as they are called, create more and more unrest, it is up to the Gods’ Chosen to form and forge as many alliances as they possibly can.  But time is running out, and war is coming…

I am a big fan of Trudi Canavan’s work.  I think the worlds she creates are so complex and detailed that is it impossible not to get drawn into the colourful tales of magic and intrigue that she writes.

The vast array of characters, each with their own story and role to fulfil, make this a fascinating book.  The story lines deftly weave in and out of each other, to bring to life an engaging, captivating read.  We hear voices from all sides and perspectives, from different cultures and different people.  The author provides us with detail and in-depth background information about the places and people she has created, and throughout the book these remain consistent.

Priestess of the White is an epic tale of magic, sorcery, religion, faith, love, duty, honour and friendship.

I highly recommend this book to all fans of magic and fantasy fiction.  The Age of the Five series continues with Book 2, Last of the Wilds, which I am looking forward to reading.

Short Story Review: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Matilda Loisel is a pretty young woman who marries a clerk from the Ministry of Public Instruction.  Although she has never been accustomed to living in luxury and having the finer things in life, she longs for them.  Furthermore, even though she doesn’t live in poverty, she cannot see the merit in what she and her husband have.  So she spends her time lamenting the things she doesn’t have and what she believes she is missing out on.

One day her husband returns home from work, excited, with a surprise for his wife: an invitation to an evening reception hosted by the Ministry.  And, he explains, invitations are hard to come by.  Who could have guessed where such a well-intentioned act could lead?

The Necklace is an interesting moral tale, with an even more interesting main character.  At the beginning, I found that I did not like Matilda Loisel and felt really sorry for her husband.  However, by the end my opinion of her had changed, to the point that I actually felt sorry for her as well.

An entertaining, thought-provoking cautionary tale, that I highly recommend to fans of short fiction.

Book Review: Bloodline by Kate Cary

Bloodline by Kate Cary is a sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Bloodline is set to the backdrop of The Great War, and is told in the form of diary entries made by each of the main characters: Lieutenant John Shaw, his sister Lily Shaw, Captain Quincey Harker and Mary Seward.

When John Shaw returns from the trenches he is not the same.  He is suffering greatly from the things he has witnessed, and after being injured in a night raid on a German trench, he is sent home to England to recover.  In Purfleet sanatorium, he is placed in the care of Mary Seward, whose father once ran the establishment.  As a local girl, she quickly realises who John is and knows that the Shaw’s live in Carfax Hall, the estate next to the hospital.

Mary informs the lieutenant’s sister, Lily, where he is, and they become friends as the nurse does all in her power to help heal John.  But the man is tormented by nightmares, and so, in a bid to understand what he has been through, she reads his diary.  The horrors of Lieutenant John Shaw’s war however, are not what you might expect.  When his army captain, the charming Quincey Harker, the man who saved him the night he got injured, visits the area to see how he is, things take an irrevocable turn for them all.

I enjoyed the storyline and thought The Great War was a perfect backdrop for a story about vampires.  However, I found one thing niggled at me as I read, it being that when vampires were first mentioned it wasn’t met with much disbelief.  To my mind, the concept was accepted far too easily.  That being said, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book until the very end as I was desperate to learn what happened.  The pace of the story also felt a little inconsistent in places, but I wonder if that’s because of the nature of the narrative being in the form of a diary.  The ending itself was very, very good and filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Bloodline certainly caught my imagination, and the smooth transition between viewpoints increased the depth of the story.  It is a vivid, engaging read, one that has you wondering just how it will end and I am curious to learn where the story goes from here.  So, I have added Reckoning, the sequel to Bloodline, to my reading list.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!…and a quick update

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

After an impromptu break from Sammi Loves Books, I’m back, and playing catch-up!  The reason for the break…I have been working on a few writing projects.

I’m currently in the process of answering emails and messages, replying to comments and of course, writing posts.  So, if you have contacted me over these past few weeks, please don’t think I have been ignoring you, and thanks so much for your patience,