One man, Richard Cypher, holds the key to the fate of three nations of humanity but until he learns the Wizard’s First Rule his chances of succeeding in his task are slim. And his biggest problem is admitting that magic exists at all…A novel of incomparable scope and brimming with atmospheric detail: in a world where heart hounds stalk the boundaries for unwary human prey, blood-sucking flies hunt on behalf of their underworld masters, and where artists can draw more than your likeness, there is no place to hide, nowhere safe. Here magic makes love twice as sweet, betrayal and loss twice as bitter.
This book perplexes me even years after reading and pondering upon it. The story promises so much and then sort of delivers a little bit but doesn’t at the same time. Stuff like this bothers me, it should have been a good 800 odd page epic first book in a massive heroic series that would replace my need for a big saga after The wheel of Time and of course all the Middle Earth mythology had been devoured.
Although I am more wary of fantasy these days due to a much more varied diet of words and ideas. I still like to indulge in epic world quests, that way I can pretend to do the same quests on various planes, just without the sword or having to sleep in an inn to replenish my Hit Points. When browsing the ‘must read fantasy books’ this is one that inexplicably always seems to be mentioned and if you can’t believe the readers of their own genre, then where is the humanity I ask you?
I like build up, the calm before the storm which demands to be savoured before our heroes are plunged into a new world of discovery and adventure. I didn’t want to have the whole plot set out for me in the first ten pages like it was here. There was lot plot, an obscene amount of coincidences rendering the whole idea a farce, as well as a lot of acceptance about life changing events. Once all this is neatly wrapped up then on we move on and start the story proper.. It was all a bit mental and disappointingly unbelievable especially as there isn’t enough plot for the length of book leading the author to indulge in character building segments which don’t work. Everyone seems to delight in doing things they shouldn’t do according to their own beliefs. This inconsistency and two-dimensional nature makes caring about the characters a very difficult task.
All is not lost though, for this is fantasy where characters are there to drive the plot which is an okay one but it feels like a story that is set to run and run. To provide depth to the world it’s backed with ideas of faux philosophy which are very heavy-handed and unoriginal to say the least. Character conversations sometimes seem to consist solely of exposition making the plot pacy yet paradoxically not.
The writing is average at best, it can be quite dull in places, the 60 page bondage and torture extravaganza was off-putting, there simply too much torture and violence yet I was anesthetized to any feeling of peril because of it. Voyeurism is possibly what makes this such a love or hate book. Personally for this reader the absence of harsh scenes would have made the odd bit of nastiness much more effective but here its a case of too much to often and unless you have a certain niche enjoyment it just becomes vulgar. Adult is definitely how I would term some of the subject matter, It adds nothing to the plot either other than to garner some publicity.
It isn’t Tolkien, sadomasochism stuff aside. The world is quite well realised with a few nice set pieces but the lack of a detailed map annoyed me as a lot of the places couldn’t be located with a degree of accuracy and as a completest I like that sort of thing, why have a map and then not utilise it? There are also lots of other recycled ideas from other fantasy series, it becomes a distracting game to spot them and as I am not heavily read on my fantasy then I am sure there are a good few I missed. To be pulled out of a world so frequently makes the read disjointed at best.
The ending was disappointing too, especially after having waded through the last 800 pages to reach the conclusion but it leads onto the next book so already you are trapped in the ‘must find out what happens’ obsession which was, for once easy for me to escape from as book 2 felt very repetitious of events that had happened in the first book and book 3 was where I was truly and finally cured. Half way through after some particularly cheesy scenes and speeches that would have looked good in classic 80’s film Highlander I decided to move on. I think this is where my love affair with fantasy really ended, since then apart from finishing Jordan’s wheel of Time and picking up the latest Discworld book, things just haven’t been the same.
Having said all that I did at the time find myself curiously satisfied by the book but in no way do I find this a masterpiece of the genre that people claim it is. In fact I would go as far as to say that I find it disconcerting as well indicative of the publishing industry to allow books of this standard to be given such hype and to encourage writers to write down to this standard. Is there a reason that people are being dumbed down by various media, of course there is! I think this is one of the causes with 25 million copies of the series’ books being sold.