Holly Lisle

Books: Fantasy

The Secret Texts: Diplomacy of Wolves (1998), Vengeance of Dragons (1999), Courage of Falcons (2000)

Fire in the Mist, Bones of the Past, Mind of Magic

The Secret Texts

Diplomacy of Wolves (1998)

Diplomacy of WolvesDo not, I repeat do NOT start this book unless you already have the second book. If you finish this book without having the second book at hand, you'll be sooorry! Talk about a cliff hanger ending! Jeesh.

Aside from that, this is a pretty good book. I started it several months ago, and decided it wasn't what I was in the mood for. However, Michael just read the series, and said he thought I'd like it, so I picked it back up, and forced my way through the first chapter, which I just didn't fancy--there is a lot going on, and a lot of information, and I kept getting confused. But once I got things sorted it, I got right into the story.

Kait Galweigh is a junior diplomat for her family. She has discovered that a lifetime of keeping her own secrets has honed her for diplomacy, and as long as she can manage to keep her own secrets, she might have a future in it. unfortunately, keeping her own secrets may be far more of a struggle than she imagined.

As I said, I had a bit of trouble in the beginning, because a great deal of information was presented, strange terms were put forward, and a large number of characters were introduced, all in a short period of time. Being the lazy sort, I didn't want to work to sort it all out, but I did, and things quickly resolved themselves, and they weren't nearly as confusing as I thought they were at first.

The story starts out at a pretty fast pace, and then pretty much doesn't slow down. Even the slow traveling bits are compressed and interspersed with what is happening elsewhere. As far as the characters, I like Kait, but I think I like her Uncle Dughall better--I certainly kept wanting to read more about him, even though we got only a few tantalizing bits. The dialog is also pretty solid. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it kept the story moving--although I have to admit that Kait's inner dialogs were somewhat frustrating. We're supposed to have noticed the spirit slipping up, but Kait managed to ignore it? I don't like it, and I don't believe it.

But I really HATE cliffhanger endings. Luckily I have the next to books sitting right here waiting for me.

Otherwise, good fast paced story, interesting characters, and now you'll have to excuse me, because I really have to start reading the second book in this series right NOW.

Rating: 7/10

Vengeance of Dragons (1999)

Vengeance of DragonsAgain, with the cliffhanger ending; the lack of conclusion of a story arc is my biggest problem with this book (or series actually). You have been warned. Don't read this book without the third close at hand. Luckily, they've been out for awhile, so getting all three books should not be a problem.

When we last saw Kait, although they have recovered the Mirror of Souls, she and a handful of companions had been stranded on a long lost island when the crew mutinied and stole the ship. The only hope of rescue was from a member of the Family Sabir--the sworn enemy of the Galweighs.

The pace of this story is almost brutal. Again, any slow travelling bits are compressed into a few paragraphs, so we can get to the next scene when our heroes are in danger. Which is the second issue I have with this book: monumental events are happening, the lives of the main characters are being changed for ever as they lose their homes and families, yet no one seems to spend much time thinking about these changes, and what these changes are going to mean. Kait especially seems to make snap decisions, with little or no thought about the consequences of her actions. And when there are consequences, she quickly accepts them and moves on. Maybe she's managing to keep busy, to herself from thinking about things, but really. She is really due for a serious nervous breakdown. Her family is brutally murdered, she's driven from her home, she's betrayed by the remaining family members she has found, and then she's sent on a quest to the other side of the ocean. You'd think things like that would make someone at least a little bit introspective.

However, despite those flaws, the story is well done and engaging. Even if I'm not quite sure about Kait's sanity, I still want to know what happens to her. And more importantly, the story when in a totally unexpected direction. As I was reading, I kept telling myself, okay, "somethings going to happen here, that this thing really didn't happen." But it did, and the characters had to pick up the pieces, and although I still wasn't happy with Kait's reaction, everyone else seemed to have perfectly normal and reasonable reactions.

I also like how free will is interjected into the story. Although it is most definitely not written or discussed in those terms, it is certainly the end result of events, and I far prefer it. However, I wasn't pleased with how Kait made her choice as to who she chose as her lover. Essentially, she didn't as much make a choice as she succumbed to events. Of course this follows the pattern of everything she has done so far in the book--she reacts to events. She doesn't seem to plan, and she doesn't much act with a great deal of forethought.

And I realize that there are instances where she does plan, however, her plans seem to be at the instigation of others, and she is just going along. It's not a big deal, and it certainly doesn't effect the story, but I do find myself getting a little annoyed with her for failing to think.

However, this is a strong follow-up to Diplomacy of Wolves, and I have already started on the sequel, Courage of Falcons.

Rating: 7/10

Courage of Falcons (2000)

Courage of FalconsIn all, this was an interesting series. Again, the pace was fast--very fast--and action packed. In fact, I found it to be a little too fast, and a little too action packed, which I didn't think was possible. The problem I had was that I was reading one tragedy after another, and it just wore me out. There were few good stopping places, so I ended up getting used to putting the book down in the middle of action or important revelations--which is never a good thing, as it placed more and more distance between me and the tale.

Even when the characters traveled, there was no sense of traveling or of the characters passing time. They get on a ship, and then get off at the other end. They start moving down a road, and then they're at the other end, pausing only for something important to happen. At one point I was shocked to read that two years had passed--it felt as if only a couple of months had gone by.

Additionally, the characters I liked best were the secondary characters, Ian, Jaim, and Dughall. Kait seemed to keep herself so remote from events that I had a hard time feeling sympathy for her--or understanding why Ry and Ian liked her so much. Sure she was a strong woman--and I like strong women--but nothing seemed to get to her. Her family is slaughtered, she is betrayed be the other primary branch of her Family--these things should have made a normal person grieve, yet Kait seemed unaffected.

And the love story between Kait and Ry made no sense to me either. The only thing they seemed to have in common was the fact that they were Scarred, and that gave them some kind of connection that overrode any other feelings and sense. Their only attraction seemed to stem from their animal natures--a force beyond their control--and I had a hard time finding such a relationship romantic, or even interesting.

However, despite these flaws, the story was very good. It continued to go places I didn't expect, and surprise me with it's twists and turns. Every time I thought I knew where things were going, they headed off in another direction--and these directions all made sense and were consistent with the story and the characters. People died who I expected to live to the end, story arcs were concluded earlier than I expected. All of these things were wonderful. I just wish I'd been able to care more about the character who inhabited the story.

So I recommend this book with reservations. However, the story was very good and enjoyable, and did somewhat made up for the other shortcomings.

Rating: 6/10