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Gown of Shadow and Flame Paperback – December 7, 2012
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"An absorbing, lush, and emotional fantasy tale with an exciting, tense finish." - Kirkus Reviews
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I really enjoyed gaing more insight into the Feasters, and Celaise was a very sympathetic character. After reading this I have a whole new perspective on the bogeymen of the Lands of Loam. Likewise, I was very pleased to see the growth in character by both Celaise and Jerani. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is that I felt the pacing was somewhat uneven. But it's worth it! If you have enjoyed Hiresha and Tethiel, you will certainly enjoy this.
Marling has opened up a new land, of volcanic goddess-worshipping tribes and parasitic monsters.
Celaise is a Feaster, someone who feeds off of fear. She has been tasked by the Lord of the Feast to learn how to stop the Headless (the parasitic monsters) before she may feast on human fear again. Unfortunately, they're incredibly stupid and her illusions simply don't scare them. There's also the minor problem of a Bright Palm combing the grasslands, and destroying Feasters is one of their main reasons to exist. Soooo - starving, stuck in her mission, and evading certain death.
Jerani is a young warrior with a lot of problems, and somehow being chosen by a handmaiden of the Angry Mother hasn't helped as much as he had hoped. The rest of the tribe still speaks down to him, rock-backs are coming closer each night, and his little brother is determined to prove himself a man. Add to that the appearance of a man who looks like Jerani's father, but couldn't possibly be; the man is a Bright Palm, glowing with magic and ignoring the needs of his own family in search of a Feaster no one really believes is there.
Although he isn't actually a main character, Gio (Jerani's father) is a major catalyst. The reason he left, his reappearance, and the consequences of his actions really bring so much of the story about. I loved the drama focused around him; his relationship with Jerani and how it affected Jerani's relationship with Celaise. And oh, Celaise... I loved reading a Feaster's thoughts about herself and her kind. Loved it. She makes no bones about the fact that they frighten people to death, and while she may not come across as a hero, she doesn't come out as a villain, either. I loved the descriptions of her illusions; the depths of her dress and the worlds she can create within it. (I do think there's a lot of Quantum involved there.) Her devotion to the animals was sweet and unexpected, and I can't help hoping there are deleted scenes somewhere with more of her sentimental side.
Watching her story merge with Jerani's was a fantastic read. I was worried at one point that the book was about to be over because everything seemed to be wrapping up with a nice little bow and then BAM! Plenty of new conflict and the story continues, leaving me with a definite sense of satisfaction.
I do think there is a lot to be gained by having read at least Brood of Bones first. Celaise makes several references to enchantresses, Bright Palms, and other parts of the world which are explained in BoB and Fox's Bride.
The pacing in this novel is exquisitely orchestrated. The stakes start out high and stay that way as one obstacle after another is thrown into our heroes' path. The writing is clean and so very fresh. Marling rarely falls back on cliche phrasing, preferring novel descriptions. But the most wonderful thing about this book is the characterization. Both Celaise and Jerani act like real people. Formed by their respective cultures and histories, they struggle to find their own path in a world that has not been kind. We are not asked to wallow in their tragedy, just to try to understand them. And the reader finds that may be more difficult than expected when one considers that Celaise's Illusion magic isn't the only way to twist reality.
Despite this talk of tragedy, the novel is fairly light-hearted and an inordinate amount of fun. Marling has taken a story I've read many times before and turned it into a new and magical experience. If you liked Brood of Bones and Fox's Bride, you have no reason not to read this, even if, like me, you think you're finished with vampires.
Each book from Marling gets better and better and they all are great. I've read Brood of Bones, Foxs Bride and now Gown of Shadow and Flame. So original, totally high fantasy, and captivating.
Now I am going to start Gravitys Reveng.
If you want a fun ride of strange characters in strange places, Marlings books are a blast!
They are also written well and properly formatted!!!! :)