Keeping my promise to do something about all those fantasy novels I have lying around on my shelves, following The Book of Words trilogy I decided to once again read something I've been meaning to pick up for quite a while now.
I bought the paperback edition of David B. Coe's Children of Amarid in 1998. Indeed, I picked it up at my local W. H. Smith the week it came out. It looked different, for some reason. Realizing that it was the opening chapter of a trilogy, I decided to wait before reading it. God knows I'm presently reading enough ongoing series that I didn't wish to add another one to the list. So wait I did. . .
In the spring of 2001, I brought the book with me to Italy. I figured that it would give me something to kill time in the plane and the bus. Alas, mesmerized by the splendors of Rome, Florence, Pisa, Lake Cuomo, Venice, Sorrento, Capri, and everything else Italy has to offer, I never made it to page 5. Maybe we could blame it on the wine. . .;-) Hence, I returned home 3 weeks later and put the book back on the shelf.
In the spring of 2002, this time I brought it with me to France. Again, I brought it with me for the same reasons. And once more, I'm afraid that fascinated by Paris, Versailles, the castles of the Loire Valley, Carcassone, Avignon, Montpellier, the fabulous French Riviera, Monaco, Chamonix and the breathtaking Alps, Mont St-Michel, and all that France has to offer, I never did open the book once. Again, maybe the wine had something to do with it. . .;-)
The novel was thus returned to that same shelf, unread, where it remained for nearly 3 years. Until last Sunday night, that is. Indeed, it was now high time for me to read the first volume of the LonTobyn Chronicle.
And you want to know something? I'm sure glad I did!:-) Children of Amarid is the best debut novel I've read in years. Truth to tell, I don't remember how long it's been since I've read such a good debut novel. This great yarn appears to have been written by a seasoned author. To put it simply, I've enjoyed everything about it!
Fantasy awards generally don't mean anything, as far as I'm concerned. I'll soon be writing a post on this subject. . . But Coe has won the William L. Crawford Award, for best first fantasy series. And based on this first volume, it was more than deserved.
I have no wish to include some spoilers in this post, for I do not want to deprive anyone of the pleasure of reading this wonderful book.:-) Suffice to say that you should all buy it!;-) Having said that, however, there is still a lot I can tell you about.
To begin with, the characterizations are excellent. Coe has created a number of three-dimensional characters. Some endearing and engaging, others less so; but all of them "real."
This series is also much more mature in its writing style. Far from the juvenile style of J. V. Jones, I must say. Which makes this a book destined for adults. I'm not saying that a younger crowd will not enjoy it. Far from it. But if you're someone who's eagerly awaiting R. A. Salvatore's next book, with all those choregraphed battle scenes and little substance, then this is probably not for you. . . No offense to Mr. Salvatore, but this story is not for the same sort of fantasy fans.
Plus, Coe's worldbuilding is distinctive and more than a little impressive for someone's first novel. The imagery is arresting, showing that the author has a good eye for details. The magic system offers a new twist, with mages bound to animals and the use of crystals. The myths and legends of the land, of which we only get a little glimpse in this novel, make you want to discover more.
The pace of the book keeps you turning the pages, even if it's far from being a thriller. In addition, Coe's prose is well beyond what we have come to expect from most fantasy novels. Children of Amarid is elegantly written, making it a wonderful read.
The author also tackles a traditional fantasy theme: Sorcery vs Technology. We only see a little of this in the novel, but a lot more appears to be in store in the next installment.
All in all, a very, very good book. It leaves you wanting to read more about Jaryd, Alayna, Baden, Trahn, Orris, and the rest of the characters. It leaves you wanting to learn more about Theron, Phelan, and the rest of the Unsettled. It leaves you wanting to learn more about Sartol. In short, it leaves you with a strong desire to return to the land of Tobyn-Ser. And to discover what lies to the west, in the technological world of Lon-Ser.
The only negative thing I can mention about this book concerns what little we learn about Sartol and how he came into power. But I have a feeling that it is something that will be addressed in the next 2 volumes of the series.
I commend this one to your attention. Novels with so much promise are few and far between. It deserves 8.5/10.
Mr. Coe, you have earned my admiration.It may not seem like much, I know. But when you've read more than 1500 books, it's getting more and more difficult to get excited by a novel these days. Which is why Children of Amarid was such a pleasant surprise. Well written and refreshing, it was a totally satisfying read. And if The Outlanders and Eagle-Sage live up to expectations, I might become a fan for life! You seem to have a distinctive voice. . . A voice many fantasy readers will hopefully appreciate for many years to come.:-)
In light of all this praise, I believe that Children of Amarid is a great addition to any fantasy collection.
Check David B. Coe's website: www.sff.net/people/davidbcoe/
That's it for now. . . Take care and be good, all of you,