99 Following

book reviews forevermore

Goodreads refugee and wordpress blogger


“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

The Curse of the Mistwraith - Janny Wurts Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Mistwraith at all. I literally was forcing myself to read 50 to 100 pages at a time, before I'd lose interest and set it down again. Had the plot been told in a more linear fashion, with less background and more actual action, I might have enjoyed it more. The writing suffered from a disjointed structure and over-abundance of verbage. As in example, within the first twenty-seven pages of the book, we are treated to a "Prologue," written in historical fashion; a sea rescue written from the viewpoint of a non-significant first officer; sword practice and embedded memory from the view of a prince; a chapter with an unnamed high mage and farseer; and "Fragments," which are, quite literally, three separate and incomplete sentences that reference other scenes, some of which are inconsequential but attempt to be portentous. I found it unnecessarily confusing, made even worse by a magical transport across a gate to a whole other land shortly after page 50. Yes, the sloppy world-building that we muddled our way through in the first chapters was completely abandoned. It turns out those chapters were mostly significant for character development and politics, but unfortunately there was so little direct focus on the main characters, it was hard to get a solid feel for them.Actually, that leads me to a second stumbling block: characterization. These princes change reactions and mood every five steps it seems, and their moodiness makes it hard to identify redeeming qualities of either. A small instance is when Lysaer was talking with Dakar, and found he was angry enough at Dakar's inquiry about not being taught about his gift of light, that he needed to try to keep from hitting something. Yet in the end of the scene, he's declining teaching from a Fellowship mage "for the greater good of Tysan" in an accepting and noble manner. Which leads me to a story-wide problem: Much of the story hinges on why Arithon is talented as Master of Shadow, a bard, and a prince, but must pursue one talent to the exclusion of all others. Likewise Lysaer can' learn more than elementary magecraft because he must be a ruler. Except that Lysaer has taught himself enough to be able to summon light on his own, and knows enough to recognize and be awed by magical acts. "A power focus," he mused in an awed whisper. We aren't told why this is so, and Lysaer's own self-taught knowledge seems to belie the thought that it is strictly a matter of time; already he's been taught duties of prince while learning magic. Even more significantly are how fast reactions change; We are constantly being told how this "seemed an impossibly cruel twist of fate" to the half-brothers, but not exactly why this is so cruel.I found the writing seriously overwrought. There are some that praise the prose of Mistwraith, but I'll never be one of them. Almost every noun comes coupled with an adjective, and every verb an adverb, so the whole image is lost in description. Describing the base of a tower: "Here the drafts sang in dissonance through arrow loops and murder holes." A reaction to the weather (and not a plot point): "Chilled to gooseflesh as dampness hit his wet skin, Lysaer sucked in a deep breath." Reflecting on an obligation: "The ritual unleashed emotion, could and had linked participants to the depths of insight that a bond of sympathy with the subject under study became nearly impossible to deny." As singular sentences, they might be pleasing; as they contribute to focus on plot points or character, they are virtually meaningless. The issue of verbosity transcends mere sentences to cause larger structural problems. When equal attention is given to all scenes, it lends to an uneven focus. For instance, a sorcerer discovers a meth-snake, destroys it and reports its unusual development to the fellowship. Suddenly the princes are riding furiously toward a tower but not knowing why. Once at the tower, Asandir joins the sorcerers in a trance, and the impending disaster is dealt with magically in four or five pages. It makes the feat of magic seem less significant and somewhat unimpressive.A small peeve was the introduction of a young and willful sorceress flouting the restrictions of her order. Although it's been years since I've read The Wheel of Time, I felt like someone was channeling Jordan when she ended up with Asandir in a hayloft.Overall, not a series I'll continue. While I enjoy the occasional epic fantasy, this one felt too messy and forced to be enjoyable and ultimately was not worth my time.