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Son of Avonar (Anglais) Poche – 3 février 2004
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The dawn wind teased at my old red shawl as I scrambled up the last steep pitch of the crescent-shaped headland the villagers called Rif Paltarre-(Poacher's Ridge. Lire la première page
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C'est de la fantasy féminine c'est certain (on pense à Jennifer Fallon, à Melanie Rawl, à Jacqueline Carey), mais messieurs ne vous inquiètez pas, vous aurez aussi des mondes à sauver, vous assisterez à des scènes de torture particulièrement raffinées (organes broyés, brûlés, coupés...), vous croiserez des sorciers à quasiment tous les coins de pages et vous serez par moments dans la tête d'un héros commandant une armée terrifiante.
Mais c'est d'abord une série pour les amoureux des personnages, pour ceux qui aiment les psychologies complexes et les personnages à double visage.
Petite parenthèse: Chapeau bas à l'auteur de nous offrir un héros et une héroïne de 40-50 ans plutôt que des demoiseaux de 20 ans qui n'ont rien vécu ou des sorciers qui ont vécu des millénaires. Cela sonne juste et c'est rafraîchissant.
1- "Son of Avonar" 4 étoiles
J'ai eu un peu de mal à rentrer dans l'univers proposé par l'écrivain. Les scènes étaient prometteuses mais entrelacées de flashbacks certes élégants et habiles, mais coupant le souffle de l'intrigue.
On découvre Séri, une femme revêche de 35 ans environ, vivant dans une petite maison en pleine campagne.Lire la suite ›
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Her character work has always been her strong suit, in that even minor characters are usually fairly well fleshed out. But this book (the first in a trilogy) is a self-contained masterpiece. You could read this book and go no further. I was sure she would hang me out on a cliff like most Fantasy authors do in a multi-book collection, but she wrapped it up nicely at the end, left me wanting so much more but not suffering using tired devices to keep my interest.
This is a moving story, the flashbacks (another device that I never think is used well, though her weaving of it into the present made me look for the past with equal anticipation) lend so much weight to the story and it is heavy despairing stuff, the kind that makes your fist clench in agony as you are reading it. I kept thinking, dear God, no, no, no, for it was too devastating to consider because from the moment you meet the heroine, Seriana, she has you at her side, understanding her, feeling her loneliness and deep sadness. Yet her strength is amazing; amazing, but real. It is the kind of strength of the human variety not super hero.
There is a love story here too, a beautiful love story that too is very real. One of the other reviewers said her words jump off the page - and they do - it is a very active story and the writing is filled with electric energy. It is spare; Hemingway-esque actually at points, without anything overblown. Utterly readable it is a page turner - you will fight to break away from it and probably will not be able to. Make sure you have time set aside and just read it straight through.
I am thrilled to have had the pleasure to read this book and hope against hope that in the series they only continue to get better. I do have what I call Matrix-anxiety about sequels but I have faith that Carol Berg is up to the task. If she sticks to a similar format where each book is inclusive to itself I believe she will have a sure-fire hit on her hands.
And finally thank you Carol Berg for FINALLY creating some characters who are not fourteen year old virgins! Seriana is thirty-five years old, a grown woman and I identified wit her much more than some unrealistic portrayal of a teenage princess or a twenty-something who has never been let out of a castle. Seri is all woman, her own woman, educated, bright, resourceful, but makes mistakes in judgment and often can't see the bigger picture. Just like a real woman.
Carol Berg had my interest with her other books but now she has a fan!
Berg also attempts a more experimental narrative form for this book. Present-time action interweaves with a past that's compelling even though we already know it ends tragically. Ideally, this form would do better than a chronological storyline at giving the past power to illuminate the present. I think that's what Berg was aiming for, and I admire her for attempting it. However, my own opinion is that this would have been better off as two separate books. The suspense would have been drawn out much more in the first story by not knowing the tragic ending, and experiencing that along with the characters would mean more suspense in hoping for a happy resolution to the second storyline. That being said, I still recommend reading this since the two stories are moving enough to make it worthwhile.
My only serious disappointment came at the end of Son of Avonar. The true nature of a number of characters is revealed, but the way it all happens seems very much like the end of an episode of Scooby-Doo: everyone is unmasked at once, requiring a huge amount of exposition to fill in the backstory of why they aren't who we thought they were. In fact, Berg has to bring in a whole new character at the last minute just to cover all that exposition. It's nice to face some surprising plot twists, but it would have been better if there had been more hints of what was to come before the big reveal. That would have made the twisty ending seem more natural.
Nevertheless, I do recommend this book. The characters are fully realized and interestingly flawed, and I was sucked in enough that I was very disappointed to discover we have to wait until the fall for a sequel.
Berg elegantly weaves the past into the present as she tells the story of Seri, an exhiled noblewoman who's life was torn apart by her brother and her king. The story is told from Sari's point of view, as she runs into a young man who cannot speak. When people start asking after a young man who matches the mute stranger's description, Sari realizes that there is something special about him. The two of them, with the help of some minor characters, start out on a search for this man's past and his memory.
Sari's story is utterly heartbreaking. She tells it with the reader already knowing the outcome. You come to know and love the characters and when it all comes down in Sari's love I kept echoing Sari's prayers that something miraculous would happen and they would all get away and live happily ever after.
Son of Avonar is a very serious book, but Berg puts just enough humourous, heartwarming moments in it to make it fun to read. The character of Aeren (the mysterious young man) is at once funny and tragic in his amnesia clouded confusion. This story made me chuckle and it brought tears to my eyes. The characters, settings, and cultures are vividly constructed, and Berg's characters are so three-dimensional. It is rare to find characters who are neither good or bad, but flawed, noble, honourable people as we all are. The relationship between Sari and her brother is particularly poignant.
There is also an interesting theme of nonviolence. Sari's culture is especially war-oriented, she often mentions that everyone carries a weapon, but her healer-husband's refusal to lift a hand is interesting. I am curious to see how Berg develops this theme in the future books.
Son of Avonar is a wonderful book to read. It is as good or better as all of Carol Berg's books, an excellant fantasy novel.
But on the other hand, there's D'Natheil. He's nothing more than a childish bully for more than half the book. I realize that there was a reason he acted that way, but it didn't make him any less annoying. There's very little attractive about a "hero" who gets needlessly violent and then sulks or pouts and throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way.
It actually gets worse when the "secret" of his past is revealed. Instead of feeling happy for both he and Sari, I had much more of a, "...the hell?" reaction, because there'd been no build up. Out of the blue, it seemed, we're presented with this fact and expected to accept it. I didn't buy it. And it seemed like a complete dues ex machina, even with Dassine's explanation at the end.
Supposedly this whole thing was foreshadowed by Sari "reacting" to D'Natheil, but that still makes no sense. I, and I imagine many other people, just assumed that she was finally moving on from her husband's murder. Because, despite what the romance novels and poetry try to insist, there is life after death where love is concerned; most people can move on with their lives and find romance/love again. I thought that's what was happening here. What it actually turned out to be, well, that made very little sense.
One of the book's other main problems is in the beginning. Nearly every other chapter was a flashback to Sari and Karon's life together. This is one case when I would actually advocate telling instead of showing. The constant, prolonged flashbacks may have set the stage for later events, but they badly broke the narrative and took away from what was happening at the present time. And they were boring. Dry, dull and after a while, I just started skimming them until the book got back to the interesting parts of what was happening in the present. What those flashbacks were there to do could have easily been accomplished with a few well-placed paragraphs in the present, maybe a remembrance of Sari's or something in the narrative. Anything but what was actually done.
I'm still willing to give this book three stars despite those glaring faults, mainly because the first person narration of Sari 's made up for D'Natheil's dreadful characterization and once those awful flashbacks were out of the way, the story flowed well. Particularly near the end where it raced its way towards the climax. That was very well done.
I doubt this is a book I'd read a second time through or actually recommend to anyone, but I've read many worse.
Why did this novel get 3.5 stars, then?
1) It was very predictable. I was not surprised at anything--but the main character (someone who was supposed to be fairly intelligent) was stunned breathless. Hm...
2) The main character was supposed to be fairly intelligent. All those years in exile should have hardened her resolve and made her less naive and less foolish, yet she makes mistakes as if she had never done a hard day's work.
3)The main theme was...lacking. It could have had a powerful effect, Seri coming to realize what she had never understood. Yet, it was not powerful. It came across as a theme slapped on too late and only kneaded in partially.
I did enjoy it, however, when I was not slapping my forehead at the general stupidty of the characters. One stupid character is all right, and two is fine. Three is pushing it, but when the characters that are supposedly smart are making dumb errors, you know something is off. I do recommend it to anyone in the mood for a pleasant fantasy novel, but do not expect a knock-your-socks-off work.