- Series: Sulien (Book 1)
- Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Tor Fantasy; 1st edition (August 19, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765343274
- ISBN-13: 978-0765343277
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #942,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The King's Peace (Sulien) Mass Market Paperback – August 19, 2002
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This variant of the Arthurian tales begins with Sulien apGwien's encounter with Jamish raiders, which makes her a lifelong foe of those invaders of her native Tir Tanagiri and draws her into supporting King Urdo, who rules at Caer Tanaga. He seeks to unite the squabbling nobles to drive out the invaders and restore peace. Walton writes with almost poetic skill, and the world she constructs is finely built despite the obviousness of her variations on Celtic and Norse cultures. She exercises her creativity more in realizing the Vincan empire and the local variant of Christianity. So open an adaptation of the Arthurian tales can hardly claim originality; it must stand or fall on its execution, which in this case is most worthy. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Beautifully and thought-provokingly tells a story set in a world and a history almost like ours, but different enough to be in itself a kind of elvenland. It's good to know that there will be more." -Poul Anderson
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Top customer reviews
My feelings about this book are mixed, to say the least. I loved the first half of it and then all of a sudden, it really was a struggle to keep reading it. Maybe it is unnecessarily long.
This is the first fiction by Jo Walton I've read and I really wanted to love it. The worldbuilding is excellent, the plot and the characters are complex. The writing style is wonderful until it wasn't as gripping, although no less well done.
Sulien is raped at age seventeen and it is brutal enough that it puts her off sex forever. The similarities to Elizabeth Moon's character, Paksenarrion, are many.
At so many points I kept wondering if I was reading a version of the Arthurian legend. The similarities are enough to bug me.
I am trying to decide if I want to read the next volume or not. As I said, the characters were very well developed and felt real. But the price would have to come down substantially.
Worse than that, this mere carelessness seems to be matched by the idea that she can omit truths and outright lie about important things that others have a right to know...and her king shares this proclivity to conceal and lie about truths that the people concerned justly have a right to know to make his politicking easier. These lies have ended up biting the protagonist and others in the ass more than once - but she never perceives herself or her sly gladhanding Monarch as having any real responsibility in the bad outcome. When the protagonist gets lashed out at by her brother she's cozened by one her well meant lies and he is justly furious at her, she treats it as a mere annoyance (how dare he question the lies she meant for the best?) and ignores the problem till the brother is killed by her careless neglect of it.
The lies she told to avoid trouble in her family resembles the lies the king tells in his own kingship - he covers up a hideous crime from those who had a right to know of it because it would make his peacemaking politicking easier. He deceives his wife for the same reason more than once. He lets her drink wine which may be poisoned so as not to cause a scandal. He 'tricks' her into downgrading a duel to the death for the murderer of her mother into a harmless 'first blood' encounter. He does it all for his dream of peace. It would have been interesting if the author had intended her protagonists to be antiheroes, getting gradually more gray and more criminal in their pursuit of an ever more possible ideal, but alas, at the end it seems we're supposed to respect them as heroes and those who have been offended by those well-meaning lies to be annoying obstacles in their triumphant progress.
Instead, they both seem to me off-putting self-righteous prigs, smugly assured that the greatness of their mission overrides their sleaziness...which has drained any desire I have to go on with this particular series. As I have heard good things of Jo Walton, I may try one of her more mature novels.
I read a lot of the fantasy series. This is up there with the best.