- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (March 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765330261
- ISBN-13: 978-0765330260
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,945,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #26484 in Epic Fantasy (Books)
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Chrysanthe Paperback – March 13, 2012
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“Elegantly written and immensely enjoyable…pure delight.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer on Book of Knights
“Here is literary alchemy of the highest order, resulting in seamless Art.” ―Terence M. Green, author of Shadow of Ashland on Book of Knights
“The author's lyrical style accentuates…this intensely compact tale of self-discovery. Transcending the fantasy genre, this novel belongs in most libraries.” ―Library Journal on Book of Knights
“A coming-of-age tale of a young man desperate to become a knight. Meynard's writing is deft, creating evocative imagery with the simplest language.” ―Publishers Weekly on Book of Knights
About the Author
YVES MEYNARD lives in Longueuil, Quebec. He is the literary editor of the SF magazine Solaris, and has published six books in French.
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There are a few different wrinkles. The made worlds. The Book. The Law.
Chrysanthe is the real world. All others were made by wizards many years ago, but not too many. Chrysanthe is only 6,098 years old. Obviously the author ran with the time frame proposed by Creationists on how old the Earth is. There are other religious references as well, though they are simply back story and not really pertinent to the main one. The Book is not an actual book. It is something from which God creates things. The Law is God's law. One of its rules is that no harm may befall the ruler of Chrysanthe or his descendants in line for the throne. There are Heroes in Chrysanthe who are created from the Book.
The story plods along slowly, too slow for my liking, to the eventual 'battle royale' with the good guys winning.
About a third of the way into the book the author forgot who the main protagonists were - Christine and Quentin. Quite simply, the parts they play throughout the balance are almost non-existent. Instead a new character, Melogian, a female wizard, takes center stage. Even some of the sidekicks like Captain Veraless get a lot more play than our original two heroes. When you invest the reader in two characters and then drop them like hot potatoes, you drop the attachment.
What is also frustrating is the plot holes.
Reading from here contains spoilers.
The made worlds are limited in number, yet limitless. It seems that when wizards, or those empowered by wizards, travel from Chrysanthe into the made worlds the move down a gradient whereby the made world deviates constantly. The best analogy would be a multiverse where things are not quite the same in each copy. It's made clear only wizards or those empowered can travel the gradient. The heroine Christine, daughter of Edisthen, the king of Chrysanthe, cannot travel the gradient. She is trapped in a made world and it takes a knight, Sir Quentin, who is empowered by the magic of Orion, to save her and do so. Her father, the king, gets trapped in a made world and dies traversing down the gradient. Wait a second. Only wizards and those they empower can do so. How did that happen? A lot of people liked the made worlds. I just found them confusing.
The Book is the only place Heroes can come from. Only God controls the Book. Hold on now. Melogian, a wizard, through a spell creates not one, but six heroes.
The Law, as in God's law, will strike down anyone who harms royalty. The story goes how Edisthen replaced Vaurd as king as ordained by the Law. At the point Vaurd dies, his children are no longer in line for the throne. Yet, behold, the Law still applies to them for some unknown reason. Why? They have no right to the throne. No title. If a usurper is protected by the Law, then everyone in Chrysanthe should be protected because everyone could possibly be a usurper.
Then there's the demons. Trapped below the earth for millenia by the best wizards of all time because they could not be killed, all get killed! Seriously.
There are other irritating tidbits like how God is a female for most of the book, but in the middle he's male. Someone missed that. Or how Duke Corlin gets captured, then is dead, then, oh, he was only captured after all. Who's editing this thing? There's more, but I digress.
All in all, I was disappointed, both in the story and in the plot holes. The only character I felt any empathy for was an evil wizard, Mathellin. His story delved into him.
I picked up this book at my local book store for only $5.00. As a fan of epic fantasy I figured it was worth a shot. There is a glowing tribute by Ursula K. LeGuin on a previous work by the author. Next time I'll make sure the review is for the book in question.
The majority of the books I read are half that, usually creating a longer than required book but it reads quickly. Except this book wasn't shortened by it's tiny writing. Extend it out to regular reading font and margins and you're looking at something that could possibly be broaching a 700 page book with no page breaks for chapters. They start a couple of lines down from the end of the former chapter. Only "book breaks" are allotted and there are seven "books" within this one. If CHRYSANTHE were actually parsed out into seven bound books it 1) wouldn't have taken me a month to read because 2) I wouldn't have read past the first book.
As it stands CHRYSANTHE is a strange one for me. I had neither the desire to stop reading nor continue. I wasn't engrossed with the story and the characters were wafer thing with Christine barely developing beyond the first few pages. Forget about Quentin. That boy's a lost cause. So I have no idea what compelled me to actually finish this title. It goes against all of the logic of my prior DNFs as it rightly should have been one.
In all honesty I do think it was the world. If nothing else the world was a pretty solid one and I found Quentin's and Christine's travels through the worlds to be fascinating and the concept that they're not even real once you leave them pretty intriguing. It kind of bodes for the whole "tree falls in the forest" thing. If no one's there to experience it does it exist after all? I wasn't too fond of the whole Hero concept in that if there's an incompetent ass on the throne then the Book (read: bible) will spit out a Hero to depose the crappy ruler and not much can be done because the Law (basically an intangible governing entity enforced by some kind of higher power) will kill you dead if you even so much as flick a royal's nose and mean the harm it causes. For instance Christine, at around 10 years old, got into a fight with a schoolmate in the made world where she was trapped and the girl kicked her in the shin. Because the Law followed Christine and applied in the made world the girl died a horrible death (which varies from death to death on the method). Neat concept, kind of crappy attribution. There are a lot of flaws in the world's logic but it painted a nice picture regardless.
Except for the poop. There's a lot of it. Literally. The author had an unhealthy obsession of demonstrating a character's ability to provide a BM. I have no idea why. But there was a lot of gut rumbling and voiding of bowels going on. Is this an aspect of fantasy I just wasn't aware of?
CHRYSANTHE was one of the few books where I read reviews as I was reading it simply because I wanted to know why it kept getting such low star ratings. Having read it I can understand. You're pretty much only going to tolerate it if you're a world whore like I am, and even that's a stretch. Reading it you're pretty much skating on the surface, reading a text book account of what's going on in these people's lives. There's very little by the way of character development and I believe only Christine does any developing at all. Barely. Having such vicious false memories implanted can have one hell of an effect on a person's psyche and if I said Christine didn't grow at all as a character I'd be lying but she doesn't grow much. She is rather stunted in the maturity department and she does end up with a lot shoved into her lap and I do believe she reacts accordingly. But since everything else around her is stagnant and the time elapsed is only a matter of weeks it doesn't help her. I think she's come a long way in a short amount of time, all things considered, but it's contextual.
I feel like reading something so incredibly dense I should have taken more away from it but it's fluid; it just runs from my mind. There isn't much that's all that memorable about CHRYSANTHE but it's not inherently bad either. I think if the author had a bit more focus and honed in on a single character or two instead of resorting to the third person omniscient voice I think more could have been done in terms of character development, especially for Christine. It's supposed to be mostly her story but once she gets to Chrysanthe she'd abandoned for other corners of the world most of the time. It's unfortunate.
I think the premise was fantastic and it had potential but the execution was lackluster at best. I really wanted to like CHRYSANTHE but it just fell flat.