Saturday, September 17, 2005

Western Shore - Juliet E McKenna

My copy of the penultimate book in the 'Aldabreshin Compass' series finally arrived this week, and as soon as I had finished the Echorium Sequence, I grabbed Western Shore and started to read. I finished it at 5 pm today - having spent the entire afternoon reading it, no longer able to resist reading it until I was done. As usual McKenna's writing possesses a magic of its own, and I was gripped from page one. It was with a feeling of returning to friends that I discovered Kheda sitting with his wife, Itrac, who was about to give birth. For once it was the opening chapter of one of McKenna's books that had me in tears, rather than a closing one. However, I overcame my emotions and carried on... It was with delight that I saw Velindre arrive back in the Chazen domain bringing news to Kheda. When I first met Velindre in The Warrior's Bond, I confess to find her so abrasive I disliked her almost instantly, and I only slowly warmed to her during the course of that book. I've grown to like her over the course of re-reading both the 'Tales of Einarinn' series and the 'Aldabreshin Compass' series as it's become ever clearer that Velindre is very much a square peg in a round hole, and it's not surprising that she prefers life away from the fabled wizards' isle of Hadrumal.

I was also delighted to see Naldeth return. The last I saw of him, he was suffering badly from a very painful run-in with pirates during The Assassin's Edge (I won't say more, in case I spoil it for you), so it was good to see him recovered, to a certain extent, and joining Velindre, Kheda and Risala on their journey south into uncharted (for Aldabreshins) waters. Naldeth is certainly a more likeable mage than Dev, and far more conscientious; after his experiences with the pirates, he's even less interested in having power over others, than many a mage. He and Velindre work well together, and their final battle at the end of the book was intense. Mind you, I was completely surprised by the decision Naldeth made at the end of the book; although it was totally in keeping with his character, it was unexpected and I can see he's going to need all his courage and strength of mind to carry it out.

I have only two complaints about this book - the first is the cliff-hanger ending - in the first two books of the series, Kheda makes it back home to his domain before the book ends, but in this one he and the others are still trapped on the western shore of the island out in the Southern ocean. I shall be mentally chewing my fingernails until I get my hands on the final book of this series. The second complaint is that McKenna introduces us to one of the "savages" who live on the aforementioned island, and although we share her hopes and fears, she's never named. Since we get to share so much of her headspace, I felt we should have got to know her name as well. Still, these are both very minor niggles, and all in all, I totally enjoyed this book and look forward to re-reading it again in a month or two.


Camille said...

In addition to adding your recommendations to my own reading list, I always forward them along to my middle daughter who loves fantasy and somehow, despite being in college still finds time to read for pleasure. Hmmm...not sure how she does it, need to make sure she is working hard enough.

Michele said...

I feel honoured - and responsible ! I guess how your daughter manages it depends on her course of study. I know that when I did my computer programming course a couple of eons ago, I managed to read tons of fiction at the same time. But I read far less that wasn't at least peripherally related to my course when I did my English and History degree a few years back.