I aksed for this book for Christmas. When I finally got a break in book club books, I cracked this baby open and haven't been able to put it down. I just finished it about five minutes ago.
A thief, his courtesan sister, a city guard and a centuries-old sorceress battle the baddies and one another from start to finish. This book is action packed. It is also alternately beautiful, heartwrenching, and squirmworthy; the latter being the effect of reading just how awful an author can be to her characters!!! I thought George Martin did terrible things to his characters. Whew! Ruth is the QUEEN of putting her characters through the wringer, then putting them through again, only this time--the rollers have spikes.
I have no love of gore or gratuitious violence. There was plenty of gore, plenty of violence--but always believable. Never gratuitious. Whatever happened did so in a way that not only got the squirmfactor going, but Ms. Long managed to do it without ever making me feel the need to put the book in the freezer. It was an amazing meld of epic good vs. evil fantasy, sword and sorcery, and romance.
Well of course, there was romance! Every story has it. But nary a schmaltzy, cliched gushfest presented itself. No contrived love scenes. Like the violence, the romance and passion was never gratuitious. It did its job. It furthered the plot. They were love stories--stories of respect and fear and passion and sacrifice. The love between the siblings is as fierce as the love between the couples.
One of the things I liked most about this book is the fact that it's not your typical happily ever after. There is happiness. There is triumph. There is defeat and loss. It has everything, while remaining true to itself. I will be thinking about this book long after it's back on my shelf.
Well done, Ruth! Of course, this means I'll be buying another R.F. Long creation.