Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: The Hermetica of Elysium by Annmarie Banks

Nadiria is a young serving girl living in Barcelona in the late fifteenth century. Unlike many other servants Nadiria has a unique set of talents, she speaks, reads and writes a number of languages some taught to her by her mother and some by her master so she can manage his books. Nadiria's life is turned upside down when she is roused one night to translate a dying man's last words. Soon after she is kidnapped by the deceased man's brother, Lord Montrose, and his companions. Nadiria makes a deal with her captor's, trading her help for freedom, and the group sets off to recover a tome of archiac knowledge that could prove deadly if it falls into the wrong hands.

Nadiria is a vibrant, rich character that the reader can't help but immediately fall in love with. Together with an interesting group of supporting characters the story sets off at a steady pace. I was impressed with the unexpected directions that the plot took and Banks did a great job of steering clear of a number of tired conventions. With most of the action restricted to rather remote areas it is hard to get a real sense of the time period or the areas concerned though there is enough promise to suggest Banks will intergrate these better into future instalments.

There were some slight pacing issues near the end where there seemed more of a focus on setting events up for the next book and this led to the lack of a clear ending.

Overall Banks does a brilliant job of creating an excellent cast of characters and an interesting plot. The lack of a clear ending does put a minor damper on things but it was still an engaging read. 8.5/10.

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