Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Check out the full review on Book Frivolity!
Narrative: Third Person, Subjective, Limited.
This is one of the most wonderful, beautiful, yet emotionally brutal fantasy books I've read in a long time. It is, in my eyes, pretty bloody gorgeous on multiple levels.
But, here's my honest opinion: this book is probably going to polarise readers opinions. I loved it, I think any anybody that loves to explore the nitty gritty workings within a fantasy world will love it and anybody looking for the fantasy genre to be flipped on it's back karate style will love it.
Anybody who is looking for it to follow the paths expected of a classic fantasy, like the essence of The Unremembered did, might possibly have slight conniptions.
This is less a sequential progression of The Unremembered, and more a tangential study of how this world works, why it works, and the discoveries that will shape it's future. The ending of book #1 will not have prepared you for the change of pace and tone that Trial of Intentions takes*. I love epic fantasy that takes the time to build functional worlds, so this sits extremely well with me, but it's in no way the generic, run of the mill sequel. As I wrote when I was reading this, Trial of Intentions is the book of exposition, that wasn't given much attention in The Unremembered.
Boiled down, it's book of politics and academics set within Vault of Heaven's fantasy world. There is no frantic adventuring, baseless wars or continuous fight scenes! The hero Tahn, is looking to astronomy, physics and mathematics to prevent the war. The Leagueman, Roth, is using political manoeuvring to commit the most horrendous civil atrocities and denying there will be a war. Wendra is taking lessons in music and sound to forge herself as a weapon and The Sheason are so busy internally combusting, they are blind to the reality that's going to tear them asunder.
All the factions are gearing up for battle (literally, there's even love for engineering here), but the sticky situations come from angles you probably aren't expecting after The Unremembered.
Parts of it are incredibly painful. Trial of Intentions uses suicide, and the dark emotional aftermath to create purpose and drive within some of the characters. There are scenes of self sacrifice that will have the hardest heart breaking. If the publisher leaves the authors notes in, you will see why Orullian has given so much time to it. It's not gritty, it would be a shame to name it so; it's dark, emotional and tear inducing. For anyone that's been affected by suicide, you'll immediately understand where parts of this novel come from. For those that haven't, you're about to learn why this is such a hard act to process and move forward from.**
As with The Unremembered, Trial of Intentions has great character progression. Some of the best is actually with the two characters sent off on what seems like a fairly inconsequential side quest at the beginning of the novel. The funny, rootdigging, side kick Sutter, probably develops more in this book than any of the other characters, and Mira, who starts out as the pixie lust chick in The Unremembered, is now mourning the loss of her heritage and the uncertainty of her future.
As an added bonus, we get to see some of the inner workings of the Quiet, through the eyes of a character that is simply struggling for his own race's survival. Some of the most poignant moments are during his scenes. I loved that nearly all the characters in the book are given the time of day to become three dimensional beings, rather than the usual slap dash side characters sometimes used to fill a chapter.
As much as I adored it, there are some parts of the book that I think may make some readers feel excluded from the narrative. I for instance, had a brain of holes when trying to imagine the physics/mathematics etc. sections in this book. I couldn't conceptualise it, so I frowned a lot during those sections, even though I loved the exposition and how it was being utilised. I think those not musically minded and can't conceptualise things like half tones and sound resonance etc. will find those sections frown worthy. Much of the book is explanatory on these subjects, and though they are fantasy based, they are still rooted in real world concepts that may be a bit too academic if the reader isn't in some way previously versed in them. On occassion, the book verges closer to an off world science fiction, than fantasy; the improbable rather than the impossible, being probable.
As I said, I
Apart from my mathematical cognition not being up to par to keep up in some parts, I have no complaints. This is WoT and Stormlight Archives territory. So.. Sanderson-ish, but with less shard plate and prolonged battle scenes.. If you are of the less-is-more mind set, you might find this isn't really your cup of tea.
Harcopy Worthy? 4.5 times yes!
*The progression I am talking about is from The Author's Definitive Edition of The Unremembered. If that differs in some way from the original, I can't comment.
**If you or a loved one have been affected by suicide and would like to talk about it confidentially, please call Lifeline (Australia) on 13 11 14, or one of the hotlines on this list for local help: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html****