Monday, 16 June 2008

One book to go and I'm done OUT2!!!

Hurray! I finished A Princess of Roumania 20 minutes ago, and that leaves one book to read by Friday, and then the play A Midsummer Night's Dream on the 20th - the solstice, midsummer, the best time to read it, and I'm done!!! Yaaay! It is so nice to be close to finishing a challenge!!

Now to review: (and the pile of books i have to review from the past month is staring at me from beside the keyboard. When will you review me? they ask politely. You really liked me. When can I be talked about on your blog? Soon, I say. Soon.)

A Princess of Roumania, by Paul Park. This book is the first in a trilogy, comprising A Princess of Roumania, The Tourmaline, and The White Tyger. As mentioned in my post yesterday, A Princess was nominated for the World Fantasy Award when it came out. Did it deserve it? Yes. I have to warn you, Gentle Reader, that this is a very different kind of fantasy series. It is set in an alternate history of Roumania, but parts of it are in current America. Time shifts in this book, so it takes a little while to figure out where we are - and the alternate Roumania doesn't exist! The characters too are not your standard hero quest figures: Miranda is a typical self-absorbed teen who follows her friend Andromeda slavishly, and Peter is deformed - he is missing one of his hands. Miranda is the Whyte Tiger, the hereditary Princess of an old Roumanian line who is foretold to save her people. I can't say any more without revealing the plot, which I really don't want to do, because this is such a well-thought out and detailed book that it deserves to be more widely read. It is not easy to keep track of the political threads, in which Miranda's family have been caught up and mostly destroyed by. It is a gripping book. And best of all, is there is magic. Both folk magic and superstitions, alchemy, witchcraft, and conjuring. This to my mind lifts the book above any average fantasy. It is also quite dark. Murder and child abandonment, politics, and nasty villains abound. The gift of the author is that he can show how their minds work - the story is told in many differing viewpoints - and while we hate and fear them, as Miranda and everyone working against them do - this lifts the political intrigue to a very real sense of dread and precariousness for Miranda, for Roumania in that world. There are also dreams, and ghosts, and a fantastical rendering of a trip to the land of the dead for Miranda that is extraordinary. This is not a flashy book, instead, the magic and fantasy are worked quietly into the fabric of the story and characters, so that the magic seems like it could be part of our world, and there is the same fear of it that our world has towards anything resembling magic or witchcraft. This is a very interesting fantasy, a fascinating story.

Highly recommended.


Chris said...

Oooh, This one's going right onto the wishlist! Though I have to admit that it was going there before I ever read your review just based on the Palencar cover ;) I love his art. But the book sounds fantastic! I have trouble sometimes with these alternate history/time shifting books, but this one sounds like it was done right in an almost Urban Fantasy type of way...just the way I like my books! Can't wait!

Nymeth said...

How come I had never heard of this before? A World Fantasy Award winner! It's going right onto my wishlist too.

Carl V. said...

I have all three books (and just so you know, a fourth came out just much for stopping at a trilogy! ha!) on my shelves at home waiting to be read. Love, love, love all the John Jude Palencar covers. Amazing!