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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Book Review: Myrren's Gift

I give it a 2 out of 5

Recently, I picked up a book written by an author I didn't recognize. Myrren's Gift by Fiona McIntosh was published by EOS publishers, a division of Harper Collins. The author lives in Australia and the book first circulated there.

This story is a fantasy and part of a trilogy called The Quickening.

The plot in a nutshell: The story revolves around a young man, Wyl. He inherits a high ranking position in the king's army. The antagonist is the king's heir. Wyl shows mercy on a dying witch, Myrren. This witch then gives Wyl a gift.

The gift protects Wyl's soul and basically, he can't die until his life is where Myrren believes it should be (although, you don't find out that last tidbit until book 2). When someone kills Wyl, his soul is yanked from the dying body and enters the body of the one who killed him. This premise is very interesting. The story kept my attention simply because I was interested in seeing how the "body swapping" would progress. The antagonist plays his part well, the reader hates him. Although, the antagonist is almost too much. There are no redeeming qualities, there is nothing about the antagonist that makes him seem real to me. He's just there to be as evil as possible to give the hero someone to fight.

I read book one and book two and I'll probably finish the trilogy. I really hate leaving a story unfinished. However, there are some definite cons to this series. First, the first book starts with characters jumping point-of-view halfway through a paragraph. I don't mind pov switches... but I like them broken by chapter or at least scene. The first few chapters include so much exposition and back story I found it surprising the book was published. This is a trilogy that includes quite a bit of tell, not show. There were so many uses of "was" and "had" I kept thinking... "wow, ok, my writer buddies would be all over this." There are some plot holes and some things that just strike a wrong tone with me.

One of the main characters is a young gong boy, age 10, very small who cleans the poop shoot. I enjoy the character and I think he's interesting... BUT, there is no way he ever, EVER appears to be a child. His thoughts, his speech, his behavior, his acceptance - all sound like an adult. Even if he had a hard life, even if he was gifted with some special ability... I just couldn't suspend my belief on that character.

If you like body swapping stories or if you are on the lookout for a new trilogy to read. You may want to give this trilogy a shot. I think the 2nd book was written a little better and hopefully future books would be tighter and flow better. I probably won't read anything more of this author, but I'm sure others will enjoy it. Oh, I should add a little warning though. This is definitely mature content, it includes torture and rape. In fact, Wyl gets raped while he's a woman... or at least, I think he was raped. It gets a little confusing around that part. I wasn't very comfortable with it and it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Here's an excerpt from early in book one. The story is mostly in Wyl's point-of-view but bounces around to whoever is near Wyl. In this scene Celimus, the heir, has defeated Wyl in a competition and he's claiming "virgin's blood" - he wants to take Ylena, Wyl's sister, to bed before she marries Wyl's best friend:

Magnus opened his eyes and nodded, hardly daring to believe that Wyl might have taken his hint as to how to foil Celimus's plan.
Wyl straightened. "Sire, apologies, I do believe there has been a misunderstanding here."
"Oh?" Magnus replied, hope suddenly flaring in his heart.
Wyl nodded gravely. He looked at Celimus. "My Prince, as her only living relative, I cannot permit you to choose Ylena."
Celimus's smile faltered, turning into a sneer. "I'm not sure your familial ties override the royal claim, Thirsk. Step aside."
Gueryn's eyes narrowed. He had no idea what was going on here and he could only pray that Wyl knew what he was doing.

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Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

I've got it figured out already, rashenbo. The guy Wyl gets the villian to kill him, thus neatly wrapping up the conflict and the series.


One thing that the plot you describes makes me think is that Wyl himself might be a bad guy, except it isn't his fault he body jumps. If he got himself into this on purpose, he'd definitely be a bad guy.

Isn't it funny how the whys and hows of a thing can make the character to the reader?

2:13 PM  

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