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Juliet McKenna

book review Juliet McKenna Tale of Einarinn(1965- )
Juliet McKenna studied Classics at Oxford. She now lives and writes in West Oxfordshire, England. You can read excerpts and Juliet McKenna’s comments about her novels at her website.

The Thief’s Gamble: Unpolished potential

The Thief's Gamble by Juliet McKenna

The Thief's Gamble is a difficult book to review. The difficulty arises primarily from the same thing that my lukewarm 3-star rating does: the uneven, jam-packed narrative and the periodic confusion that it caused. The narrative is really three-fold: (1) the main story, as seen through the eyes of Livak, a tough, lucky female thief who stumbles into a quest for artifacts that may somehow be linked to a lost race and new kind of magic; (2) near-simultaneous events occurring elsewhere, told from a third-person viewpoint but focusing on an irritating, pompous minor wizard, Casuel; and (3) excerpts from treatises in the fantasy world that are supposed to provide key information to understanding things that will soon happen. The problem, in a nutshell, was that there were just too many things — a pantheon/religious system that is only explained piecemeal; systems of magic explained some... Read More

Irons in the Fire: Bland characters, bad dialogue, dull set-up

Irons in the Fire by Juliet E. McKenna

Contemporary wisdom holds that a fantasy novel should include the following non-exclusive elements and that they, or at least tantalizing glimpses of them, should be apparent from the beginning:

distinctive characters whom the reader can like, relate to,or watch with concerned or morbid fascination
a fascinating world
a conflict, crisis, or unrealized desire that meaningfullyimpacts said characters and world

Ideally, a brisk (or at least smooth) pace and clean, crisp prose combine with these elements to create a lucid, vivid, captivating dream that, as is commonly stated, "sucks the reader in."

Unfortunately, I found the latest tale of Juliet McKenna's signature world of Einarinn, Irons in the Fire, lacking in each of these elements, and in light of this and the number of other books on my ... Read More

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy: Celebrates the rich diversity of the genre

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (ed.)

I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to short fiction. Because of my lack of experience in this area, I hope that you will bear with me as I try to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, even if I don’t always succeed. The plan is to first look at each short story individually providing synopses and commentary, followed by my evaluation of the compilation as a whole. So, let’s look at the stories:

1) “Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast” by Mark Chadbourn. On Christmas Eve in the year 1598 in a world where England is at war against the Faerie, England’s greatest spy Will Swyfte is on a mission of the greatest import — he has until dawn to prevent the Faerie Queen from crossing over to the other side. If he doesn’t, then the Unseelie Court w... Read More

More books by Juliet McKenna

The Aldabreshin Compass — (2003-2006) Publisher: Their coming had not been written in the stars, and no augury had foretold the terror they would bring. The first sign was the golden lights of the beacons, a clear message from every southern isle that a calamity had befallen them. Daish Kheda, warlord, reader of portents, giver of laws, healer and protector of all his many-islanded realm encompasses, must act quickly and decisively to avert disaster. But the people of the Aldabreshin Archipelago not only fear magic, they’ve abjured it. So what defense can Kheda offer against the threat of a dark magic that threatens to overrun every island of his domain? A new tale from the writer who has already gathered many fans with the five volumes of her Tales of Einarinn, Southern Fire is an engrossing epic of magic, intrigue, culture, and politics, in a fantasy setting as colorful as the south seas, as bracing as the ocean wind, and as alluring as the hint of spices in the air of an exotic port.

book review Juliet McKenna The Aldabreshin Compass Southern Fire, Northern Storm, Western Shore, Eastern Tidebook review Juliet McKenna The Aldabreshin Compass Southern Fire, Northern Storm, Western Shore, Eastern Tidebook review Juliet McKenna The Aldabreshin Compass Southern Fire, Northern Storm, Western Shore, Eastern Tidebook review Juliet McKenna The Aldabreshin Compass Southern Fire, Northern Storm, Western Shore, Eastern Tide


The Hardrumal Crisis — (2011-2012) Publisher: The Archmage rules the island of wizards. From here he enforces the Edicts of the Council of Wizardry. Foremost is the ban on magecraft in warfare. But there is a rumour of rogue wizardry in Lescar’s recent civil war. There’s the rise of Artifice, its adepts not subject to the Archmage’s edicts. Now the Emperor of Tormalin is offering them his protection. There are corsairs raiding the Caladhrian Coast, enslaving villagers and devastating trade. Barons and merchants beg for magical aid. But all help has been refused. This is no comfort to Lady Zurenne whose husband has been murdered by corsairs. Now a man she doesn’t even know stands as guardian over her and her daughters. Corrain, former captain and now slave, knows that man is a rogue wizard, selling his skills to the corsairs. If Corrain can escape, he’ll see justice done. Unless Jilseth,  magewoman and Archmage’s confidante, can catch the renegade first, before the full extent of his villainy is revealed.  If that happens, at a time when wizardry faces so many other challenges, the scandal could have dire consequences indeed!

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