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Customer Review

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Truth" is well worth it, June 28, 2002
This review is from: First Truth (Truth, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Many fantasy books simply retread the cliches, with a too-large cast and an attempt at epic storytelling at the expense of personal characterization. Dawn Cook, like Kristen Britain, is one of the new authors who does not fall into this trap.
Alissa comes from a mixed marriage of the plainsmen and the hill people; her father, a Keeper, vanished when she was very young and her mother has raised her alone. Alissa has long since stopped believing that the Hold, a place where magic is taught, is a real place. But her mother insists that it is, and one day she sends Alissa off with her pet kestrel, Talon, to be taught how to be a Keeper. Alissa soon meets up with a plainsman musician, Strell, who recently returned to find that his family is dead. The two grate on each other immediately, with Strell prejudiced against Alissa's hill upbringing and Alissa angry about what she sees as Strell's plains snobbery.
But Strell has something that Alissa needs: A map, drawn by her father and traded away to Strell by her mother. Strell doesn't want to give it up, and agrees reluctantly to accompany Alissa on what she sees as a fool's quest. Except it isn't a fool's quest; a psychic power calling itself "Useless" possesses Alissa's body, and when the two arrive at the Hold, they find only one man in the entire building. Bailic is looking for a book known as the "First Truth," created by a powerful Master and put in the keeping of Alissa's father. And now he believes that Alissa and Strell can lead him to it...
It was refreshing to read this book, in a market flooded with cliched sword-and-sorcery stories. Cook does not seem to concern herself with making this book an epic, or cramming it full of complicated cultures and peoples. She focuses instead on two cultures, different and divided, and the Keepers of the Hold, which encompasses both. The magic is low-key, despite a major explosion late in the book; the descriptions of the tracings and wards are very evocative.
One interesting aspect of this book is the treatment of prejudice; both Strell and Alissa have prejudices and misconceptions about the other's culture, and these prejudices are comparable to Bailic's hatred of halfbreeds (like Alissa) and the hill culture. Very few authors could successfully pull off giving the heroes the same flaws as the villains, but Cook does so without a feeling of strain. The travelling near the beginning drags on a little long, with only camping out to break the tension; the dialogue is endearingly real to life, even if it is a little repetitive when the two protagonists are offended. And the dual nature of the raku is intriguingly thought of, and will undoubtedly be touched on again in future.
Alissa is a pleasantly unconventional heroine in a genre of warrior women; she gets soggy, sulky, unhappy, irrational, and has no desire to leave her comfortable life for what she sees as a myth. Yet she overcomes many of these to become a more understanding person. Strell also is trying his best to be nice to Alissa, but often seems to put his foot in his mouth. Bailic, unlike many villains, is given motivations and past grudges to explain his current behavior. And "Useless" comes across as obnoxiously helpful, knowledgeable, and wry in his observations.
As there is no smut, graphic violence or profanity, children and teenagers as well as adults can read this book. Fans of Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip will undoubtedly enjoy this simple but deep tale. The only flaw is that readers will have to wait for the sequel...
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 9, 2011 8:44:52 PM PDT
James Fox says:
These ding-a -lings at Amazon have forgotten AGAIN that Dawn Cook and Kim Harrison ARE THE SAME PERSON!!! Kim harrison is the nom-de guerre of Dawn Cook! The re-issues even say on the cover that they are the same person!Jeff Bezos needs to whip butt on the trained Chimpanzee that does these search lists!!
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