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The Fifth Sorceress (The Chronicles of Blood and Stone, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – June 10, 2003

2.4 out of 5 stars 175 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Launched with much fanfare, The Fifth Sorceress unfortunately does not live up to the hype. Instead, Robert Newcomb's debut novel sadly fulfills the stereotype of big fantasy epics as wordy and loosely plotted, with thin characterization. Newcomb does have an interesting, apparently novel approach to magic talent--it is genetically determined. Unfortunately, the talent resides in "pure blood," making magicians qualitatively different from other humans, and giving the book an unhappy subtext. Also, the wizards (male) are good, while the sorceresses (nearly all the female characters) are evil. One hopes the sequel will address this imbalance.

The wicked Sisters of the Coven were exiled and apparently killed centuries before Prince Tristan was born. The son of a peaceful age, the magically talented prince doesn't want to be a wizard. He also doesn't want to become the King of Eutracia--but his coronation is only hours away. Then the sorceresses' specially bred army invades the palace. In the resulting massacre, Tristan, his twin sister, and the Lead Wizard are taken prisoner. Crossing the mysterious Sea of Whispers, Tristan finds himself in an unknown land--a land long since conquered by the Coven, and more dangerous and cruel than he ever could have imagined. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Newcomb may be a newcomer to fantasy writing, but it doesn't show in this surprisingly original doorstopper. After wreaking all sorts of havoc in the kingdom of Eutracia, the evil sorceresses of the Coven were overcome and exiled by the wizards of the Protectorate. Now, 327 years later, Eutracian females are forbidden to practice magic, and males are made to swear a solemn oath to stay on the side of light and good. Across the ocean in Parthalon, the sorceresses still live, plotting to kidnap Princess Shailiha from Eutracia and use her to complete an incantation that will make them all-powerful or destroy the world. Prince Tristan, Shailiha's brother and our protagonist, is perhaps the most cookie-cutter of the characters, a classic reluctant hero who'd rather wave a sword than sit on the throne. But the wizard Wigg, Tristan's companion and adviser, is no caricature of the omnipotent magical sidekick: he makes incorrect guesses and poor decisions and often fails to keep the headstrong prince in check. This isn't done for comic relief, but to put Newcomb firmly in the George R.R. Martin camp of realistic fantasy as he creates a world where fully realized characters die, everyone is in the dark about something and sometimes things simply go wrong for no reason at all. Thanks to the author's passion for tying up loose ends, the finish is neat, but it leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, the planned sequels (at least two) will provide that, as well as ample room for further character development.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Chronicles of Blood and Stone
  • Mass Market Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (June 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345448936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345448934
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Now let me get this straight. The high point of this book comes when a gnome named "Shannon the Small" bites the hero on the crotch, and yet Del Rey is calling this "The epic fantasy of the year"? Tolkien must be spinning in his grave. In all honesty, the awfulness of "The Fifth Sorceress" and the pathetic tactics that Del Rey used to market it have both become the subject of internet legend, so posting yet another scathing review here would almost be redundant. But my rage at having my time wasted by such lazy and lousy rubbish has yet to die down, so I'm going to do it anyway.
To say that "The Fifth Sorceress" is the most pathetic, incoherent, solipsistic, tedious, and idiotic fantasy novel ever written would be to give this turkey far more respect than it deserves. A fantasy novel by definition is supposed to have a storyline, characters, and some sort of plot progression. The Fifth sorceress, by contrast, is nothing more than a collection of disgusting NC-17 sex scenes pitched together in a heap of rubble, bearing no relationship to the book's alleged plot and no obvious justification for their existence other than that the author apparently feels that his horny teenage audience wishes to ogle at such material. I'd like to point out that when I say this, I'm not referring merely to the sorts of BDSM filth that's been proliferating among talentless hacks of the fantasy genre during recent years, though Newcomb does gratuitously douse his readers with several hundred pages of such material.
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Format: Hardcover
As I was reading this book, a line from THE MUSIC MAN kept running through my mind: "But ya gotta know the territory!"
Let me explain: This is Robert Newcomb's debut novel. No marks against him there; everyone's got to start someplace. But not only has he not written fantasy before; apparently, he has only *read* one fantasy novel in his life. How someone can presume to participate in a genre in which he's not well-versed, I don't know, but Newcomb's lack of background shows in that he falls into the cliché-trap at nearly every turn.
You've got an ancient war with prophecies and repercussions into the present day. You've got a gruff, inscrutable wizard mentoring the young, reluctant prince -- who happens to have unimaginably vast magical potential. There is no all-powerful EEEVILLLLL Dark Lord, but what there is is worse: the enemies are Sorceresses, the female magic-wielding counterparts of Wizards. Unlike in Robert Jordan's books, in which case there is a plausible reason for the schism between male and female magic users, here for some reason the women are just kind of randomly, innately evil. The author pretty much comes out and says that women, granted power, will almost inevitably use it for evil, whereas men, granted the same power, manage to maintain self-control and use it only altruistically.
The writing is effective but pedestrian; in fact, it could use quite a bit of work. Newcomb has some pretty good visuals, but he often rambles on for pages of details when mere paragraphs would have been sufficient; he uses five words where one would work. The book is full of awkwardly phrased sentences, typos, and annoyingly frequent repetition of phrases such as "impossible angles," or the use of "the old one" to describe the wizard.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an exciting account of a death-struggle between two mortal foes. Only one cam triumph. These deadly adversaries are the author and the English language.
English loses.
THE ADVERB PLAGUE! Good writers know that you don't tell your readers what you just said. Mr. Newcomb has yet to learn this. So we have gems like "Go around it,' Shannon said quickly."
"You'll soon find out,' he said sternly." "Gnomes,' he said simply." These examples are all from pp. 318 and 319, and there are two more in the same place. The first quote in the book is "Bring them up,' Wigg said simply."
Mr. Newcomb should find out what a "Tom Swifty" is.
HOWLERS? Oh, yes. "Swinging one leg over the pommel of his saddle, he slipped quickly to the ground." (still p. 318) I'm sure he did, if he tried to dismount by swinging his leg over his horse's head. Nice image, though.
"Don't get any ideas about stealing our horses.' He narrowed his eyes and smiled ruefully." (318 yet again!) I wonder what the author thinks 'ruefully' means?
REPETITION? Let's see...
(260) "reached out at the last possible instant"
(262) "help me wait until the last instant"
(262, 6 lines lower) "At the last possible second, Tristan..."
No editor could have been assigned to the book.
WONDERFUL NAMES! So ingenious, like Tristan (where's Isolde?), Natasha (where's Boris?), Wigg (Wigg??), Lillith (where's Eve?) Lillith's father is named Agamedes, and her brother is Chauncey. Obviously an Anglo-Greek lass. (Chauncey??)
I could go on, but it's hardly necessary. The amazing thing is that, not being a masochist, I didn't read the whole book. I did not need to scrutinize the work for occasional lapses. I found these almost at random. This is just plain bad writing. It is a weak first draft.
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