Monday, October 22, 2012

More Canavan


A week or so ago I finished the fourth of four more of Trudi Canavan's titles.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her work, and found it like shrugging into your favourite old bathrobe -- comfortable, right, and good. 
  • The prequel is about the heartbreak, strategy and politics of magical warfare. It read like a colourful and personal history book, or perhaps a series of journals from the forefathers of the heroes and heroines of the later trilogies.  It doesn't feel contrived but rather it simply is, and Canavan is telling how it is, and well. The sophistication to her world-building lends an authenticity to her writing that makes the steady progression through her books enjoyable.
  • It was good to find a few men with real backbones that are not the villains in the prequel and The Black Magician Trilogy...as they are largely absent in the later trio.
  • Canavan uses multiple perspectives (so you switch between stories), and at least one of these is consistently a strong heroine.
  • The first trilogy spends the first two books slowly setting up for the third ripper of a book, like the Traitor Spy TrilogyThe High Lord was definitely the best, and read like the climax of a good book from the quarter-mark.
  • I appreciate the way sensuality is treated with subtlety, especially in these four books (the latter trilogy was a little more heated, but I found it to be tasteful in contrast to some of what I've been stumbling upon in the adult fantasy realm).
  • Canavan allows us to know our villians without spending too much time in their heads.  
  • I was surprised to find the protagonist stumbling upon a mirror in The Magician's Guild.  Having met Tessia and Stara before Sonea, I had found I could picture them well enough without a convenient reflection moment early on. 
  • Canavan's homosexual relationships and society's reaction to them are carefully balanced with the heterosexual story arcs, and these become less reserved in nature and in less of a minority as narrative time progresses.  It was interesting, albeit sometimes loudly political.
  • Sonea's love journey was delightful.  I don't do spoilers, but if you read these books, I'd love to tell you what I liked about her romantic story.
  • Canavan sure enjoys teasing out a very particular formula with her heterosexual romances.
  • There are few surprises or twists, but this is not to say the story is poorly constructed.  It plays out well, and as I say, those book threes...awesome.
  • The first pair in trilogy one were not so riveting -- largely because the world was not new to me, but I was treated like a noob (because if I'd read them in the right order, I would be).  If the books were numbered in terms of when they take place chronolically within the fantasy world (starting with the prequel), then I think they would be best read in the order 1,2,3,4,5,6,0.5.  (I read them in the order 4,5,6,0.5,1,2,3 and it wasn't bad.  And I think if you are feeling unsure, you could read 0.5 to decide and have a sense of completion without commitment to a trilogy).
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