Wednesday, 11 July 2007
‘Odalisque’ – Fiona McIntosh (Orbit Books), Review and Giveaway!
I read the first chapter of Fiona McIntosh’s ‘Myrren’s Gift’ (Orbit were giving out these ‘taster’ books with snippets of stuff from new Australian authors) and I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed. To be fair, it was her first book but the quality of the prose (workmanlike) made reading it a chore for me. With this in mind, I wasn’t too happy to be picking up the first book of her new trilogy but having finished it I have to say that it’s actually rather good.
‘Odalisque’ transplants medieval Turkey into a fantasy setting; a world of harems, sly eunuchs and scheming viziers. Following his father’s death, fifteen-year-old Boaz is the new Zar of Percheron and must contend with the scheming of a fractured nobility fighting for a share of the power. He does not face this alone though, a mad court jester (who is not as mad as he appears) and his late father’s right hand man provide what guidance they can but will it be enough when faced with the devilish scheming of their opponents? If this wasn’t enough, trouble is brewing between the avatars of two gods and the time has come once again for battle to be joined. Now more than ever, no one is quite what they seem…
‘Odalisque’ is one of those books that you feel you ought to hate but end up secretly enjoying. I know I did and now I really want to read the sequel… It seems that every fantasy cliché finds a home in these pages; a hideous dwarf with a secret, a handsome warrior with a secret, a beautiful woman with a secret and a young boy with a … sorry, a young boy who comes to power too soon. Considering this is the beginning of a trilogy, McIntosh lets far too much slip too early. We are pretty much told what is going to happen (and even how it will end) and the joy of finding our own way through the story disappears along the way. The male/female theme is overplayed as well and the dividing line is too distinctive to be truly plausible.
Despite this, I found myself racing through the book to find out how it ended and now I want to read more. McIntosh has created a cast of characters that get under your skin and stay there; relationships are vividly drawn and made this reader want to work through to their conclusions. The villains are all particularly evil in their excesses and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, one scene in particular is guaranteed to make any male reader wince…
You can see the ending coming but you don’t want it to arrive. Whilst the main plot is clearly signposted, there are still more than a few devilish schemes and valiant defences to get through before the end.
A good light read that doesn’t ask too much of you and will keep you entertained.
Seven and a half (almost Eight actually) out of Ten
Who wants a signed copy of 'Odalisque'?
You do! Thanks to the kind folk at Orbit Books, I have ten signed copies to give away and here's what you need to do if you want one... Send me an email (the address is at the top right hand corner of the screen) telling me who you are, your mailing address and if you frequent any forums or message boards. I'll anounce the winners next Wednesday so if you're planning on entering you need to let me know by next Tuesday...