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The Law of Isolation (The Chronicles of Tevenar) (Volume 2) Paperback – November 3, 2015
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Don't miss the rest of the Chronicles of Tevenar:
Book 1: The Fuller's Apprentice
Book 3: Beyond the Boundary Stones
Book 4: The Wizards' War
Three prequel novellas:
Calling - Available now, free!
Broken Bonds - Free when you visit my website and join my mailing list.
Calling can be read before or after The Fuller's Apprentice. It takes place about thirteen years before the beginning of The Fuller's Apprentice.
Broken Bonds should be read after The Fuller's Apprentice. It takes place seven years after Calling, six years before The Fuller's Apprentice.
For maximum enjoyment, both should be read before The Wizards' War.
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Let's start with the positive stuff. This was, in all respects, a fully professional book. The spelling and grammar are generally correct except when it is obvious that the author is deviating from the norms for a reason. For example, the author tries to describe how the language of two cultures, who have been separated for a thousand years, might sound as a result of linguistic drift. She also does a little bit to account for differences in language as a result of education, social standing, etc.
The magic system is interesting although it seems impossible to create anything truly unique in the way that magic might work after so many different authors have explored the fantasy genre. The same is true with regard to invented religions. Still, both were sufficiently interesting and well described as to hold the reader's interest.
The character development might have been a little stunted but was still adequate. One reviewer noted that one of the main characters keeps making foolish mistakes. I would simply note that such is the way of youths everywhere.
The book was told from the perspective of four different characters. I generally consider this to be the result of laziness on the part of the author as it allows the author to retell the same story from the perspective of different characters without having to truly write any new scenes. On balance, I am satisfied that this was not the case with this author. It appears to me that she was genuinely trying to describe a full story in sufficient detail to allow the reader to understand why events unfolded as they did.
I would give this book a solid two thumbs up for not descending into gratuitous pornography.
My only real quip with this book and with the series so far is the cover art. The cover simply makes these books look like they are romance novels even though that does not seem to be the case. I will readily admit to being a guy and, as such, not enjoying romances. If I was shopping for books in a traditional book store, I might have passed this one by simply on the basis of the cover. On the basis of the first two books in the series, I would describe these books as being fantasy novels rather than romances.
Overall, I found these books to be entertaining. I would recommend them on that basis alone.
In this second book of the Tevenar series, the escaped outlaws from the first book find their way across the sea to another land, where they attempt to curry sympathy by claiming to be oppressed refugees from the tyrannical rule of evil wizards. This web of exaggerations has complicated repercussions. The queen (Matriarch) of this land only cares to hear the the fabled wizards really do exist, for she needs their healing powers to produce an heir that can prevent a fanatical religious sect from taking the throne. Of course the rumors abound that the wizards are evil, so there is no shortage of opposition to the Matriarch's plan to go and fetch one. Meanwhile, back in Tevenar a blight has ruined many of their crops and caused a famine which promises to become deadly before the winter ends. Trade with another land may be the only way to prevent starvation and death for many. Of course, the Mother's Law forbids it.
And so the stage is set for a great conflict where both sides need each other and yet both also reject each other. This conflict is the main force behind the whole Tevenar series, and so it won't be resolved in this book. Herein we are only setting the stage, introducing the major players and explaining the stakes. But with those limitations in mind, it is a very good book.
As part of a series, this is (as I just said) very good. As a standalone book it is only adequate. The writing, world building, and characterizations are good enough to keep the reader's interest but there is no individual plot that gives this particular book a reason to be singled out. If hard-pressed to find a central theme unique to this book, it would most likely be religious intolerance. Or conflict of beliefs in general perhaps. As that seems to be what drives the worst of the conflict in this work. Religion definitely plays a major part in this tale. But the major clash that the reader expects gets put off until later. This isn't necessarily a flaw -- many well known series have been written in the same fashion (for example Lord of the Rings). But personally I prefer books that work on their own as well as within a series.
The religion(s) described in the series feel very familiar. They are close enough to reality to be believably different, but not similar enough to be pushing any real-world religous agenda. There are some possible parallels between the "Faithful/Dualists" and Gnosticism. And the "Purifier" sect reminds one faintly of the fnatical Catholicism of the Inquisition. But things are drawn in from many different aspects that create a comletely new, and yet still coherent, religious dynamic that can be familiar without being too familiar.
If the book (or series) does have an acual flaw, it is a subtle onet. Obviously, any story worth reading would be about something unusual. If everybody lived a normal life and died of old age it wouldn't be very interesting. But the story here seems to be more about extraordinary events rather than extraordinary actions. It's still a good story, but to me that makes the difference between a good story and a great one.
Overall -- reccomended with reservations. If you have read the first book and already expect to want to read the whole series, then there's nothing here that would change that. But if you are looking for the real meat and epic action then you might prefer to skip ahead. Read this one for the world-building. The "epic" part comes later.