Review of Geomancer by Ian Irvine

February 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

GeomancerGeomancer (Well of Echoes #1)
By Ian Irvine; Read by Grant Cartwright
Publisher: Bolinda Audio via Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: July 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 23 hours, 47 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / magic / crystals / visions / aliens /

Publisher summary:

Two hundred years after the Forbidding was broken, Santhenar is locked in war with the lyrinx – intelligent, winged predators who will do anything to gain their own world. Despite the development of battle clankers and mastery of the crystals that power them, humanity is losing. Tiaan, a lonely crystal worker in a clanker manufactory, is experimenting with an entirely new kind of crystal when she begins to have extraordinary visions.

The crystal has woken her latent talent for geomancy, the most powerful of all the Secret Arts – and the most perilous. Falsely accused of sabotage by her rival, Irisis, Tiaan flees for her life. Struggling to control her talent and hunted by the lyrinx, Tiaan follows her visions all the way to Tirthrax, greatest peak on all the Three Worlds, where a nightmare awaits her.

The start of this book was promising, but things went off the rails. Then, just as they seemed to be recovering, I found the end to be awful. I think my main problem this book is the characters and their dialogue. In part one of the book Mr. Irvine introduces us to several characters that I despised almost immediately. In part two he seems to be trying to elicit sympathy from the reader via self-pity from internal monologue and sympathetic back story. It might work for some readers, but not for me. At best instead of coming around to like the characters as complex and flawed, I find myself mostly indifferent about what might happen to them.

The main character is mostly likable, although some of her thoughts rubbed me the wrong way. I assume this is another attempt to give her depth through flaws instead of being a hero trope. Maybe my dislike of almost all the characters is just an inability for me to understand their society, but I doubt it. The most likable characters are minor ones who don’t seem to stick around very long. It’s really hard for me to enjoy a book when I don’t like the people I’m reading about.

The main story is interesting. The world is at war with much more powerful alien creatures. Humanity have built machines called clankers in order to be able to fight back, but they are still mostly outmatched. At first this seems more like sci-fi than fantasy, but the clankers are powered by crystals and there a mostly unexplained magical system based on them and their connection to power nodes around the world. So really it’s some sort of mix that has more of a fantasy feel than science fiction.

There are a lot of political and social issues that play into things. With so many young men dying in a seemingly endless war, everyone is expected to produce children to essentially provide the next generation of fodder. Anyone accused of a crime is sent to one of two places depending on their gender. Males are sent to the front lines where they will likely die in short order. Women are sent to “breeding factories” which are exactly what they sound like. Entirely too much time was spent on the breeding factories, and the notion of a society so desperate to survive they force women to sleep numerous partners in the hopes of producing the most helpful offspring as frequently as possible is downright horrifying to me.

This is apparently the second series of Mr. Irvine’s Three Worlds sequence. Having never read the first (The Mirror Quartet), I’m sure I’m missing some references to things from that series. My understanding is this is set hundreds of years later, and possibly on a different world. I never felt lost but it’s possible I would understand more about the crystals and their powers if I had read that series first.

Overall it wasn’t a very good book and it was not as well executed as I would have liked. I found myself cringing at some of the writing in places, especially the dialogue. The ending of the book really was really off-putting – it felt like a bad soap opera on television.

Grant Cartwright, the narrator, is the only bright spot of the book, and a large part of me being able to get through the worst parts. I’m not sure if he exclusively reads books targeted at an Australian audience, but if so that’s a shame. He does a good amount of voices for the various characters and his normal reading voice is clear and easy to understand. Some of his voices are grating, but I think that’s fitting for the characters he is portraying. Maybe this partnership between Bolinda and Random House will bring more of his work to North America. I’d like to see what he does with a better book.

Review by Rob Zak.

The SFFaudio Podcast #159 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

May 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #159 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Charles Tan talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charles sent to World Fantasy, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation is a reworking, Is WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer YA?, three from Angry Robot, Giant Thief by David Tallerman, Empire State by Adam Christopher is superhero noir, free comic book day, The Shadow comic by Garth Ennis, listening speeds, Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm, Bolinda Audio from Australia, Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox, YA is big, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, “scare the crap out of little kids”, The Novice by Trudi Canavan, cozy fantasy, Dark Is The Moon by Ian Irvine, Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy, being developed for Netflix, polarizing, Angels Of Vengence by John Birmingham, futuristic Clancy?, White Horse by Alex Adams, Into The Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie, ebook first, “I’m getting refreshed”, Jenny would like Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, not Genevieve Valentine, Welcome To Bordertown edited by Ellen Kushner (Sfsignal interview) and Holly Black is all-new, “these stories are too wet”, A Handful Of Stars by Dana Stabenow is an older book, “Alaskans in space”, The Outcast Blade by John Courtenay has vampires, “well that’s disappointing”, how about steampunk?, the splitting of Warriors by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Legends by Robert Silverberg, Scott thinks Far Horizons should be an audiobook, Agatha H. And The Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius comics online, Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow, Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti, “clockpunk”, Nightfall by Stephen Leather, soul legalities, “God is the ultimate scammer”, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infamous, paper books, Comedia Della Morte by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, usefulness of blurbs, The Company Of The Dead by David J. Kowalski, end of Scott’s stack, I didn’t know 8 Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block was a book, lots from Audible Frontiers, Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center series with multiple narrators, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, think of the movie inverted, “take your damn dirty hands off me”, Terry Bisson’s They’re Made Out Of Meat, Charles is reading the Shirley Jackson award nominees (horror and dark fantasy) to prepare for interviews, Peter Staub’s Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, “it scared the pants off me”, where’s the John Joseph Adams anthology audiobooks?, Kim Stanley Robinson audio short story at Lightspeed Magazine, 2312 stays in the solar system, Mars trilogy if you like science, tons of new Robert Silverberg on Audible, The World Inside will be an HBO series, Scott liked Book Of Skulls, a bunch of Connie Willis, what’s on the horizon?, Existence by David Brin, Red Mars was a marathon, A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, what kind of fantasy does he write?, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, bye Charles

The Shadow cover

 

Posted by Tamahome