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The Sands of Ethryn: CS Lakin

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Jano View Drop Down
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alias author Jan Hawke

Joined: 27 Dec 2008
Location: Dunheved Kernow
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  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Sands of Ethryn: CS Lakin
    Posted: 27 Jan 2014 at 9:38pm

I'm new to The Gates of Heaven series but, as all the books stand alone, found this sixth story easy to engage with, even though a few echoes from its predecessors chimed in towards the end. As befits a fairytale fantasy, the nation of Ethryn stands on the brink of catastrophe with the desert encroaching ever faster as its people begin to leave for more bounteous lands. When King Kael-al-Falad is struck down into a seemingly evil enchanted slumber after handling a white gemstone taken from an altar atop a mysterious tower that has been discovered in the shifting dunes, it seems as though Ethryn's woes are only about to increase. With Ezbon, Kael's Vizier poised to assume power he has long coveted and, by his meddling in the dark arts,  possessed by a demon whose fate is inextricably linked to the great tower, things look bleak indeed.  Help is at hand from an unexpected quarter as Chief Archivist, Hashubah and his granddaughter, Ra'daf, who has a talent for translating archaic scripts, are charged with deciphering a scroll, also found at the base of the obsidian altar. As Hashubah and Ra'daf begin to hear the rhythmic beat of running feet from some unseen pursuer that seems to have been triggered by their reading of the ancient scroll, the King remains comatose, leaving the doctors and priests clueless as to how to restore him.

Ra'daf's unravelling of the mysterious scroll twines around the imperceivable visions of King Kael as he lives another life back in the mists of time before Ethryn existed, raises what could have been a fairly simple parable of reluctant heroes battling evil incarnate, into a multi-layered fantasy that takes in time travel, magic, faith and fortitude, where even the happy outcome becomes tainted by impending doom as the devilish Sha'kash seeks revenge on Heaven itself and lays the ground for the culminating episode of the series. There are also unexpected glimmers of reality and redemption within the human body of Ezbon as his imprisoned consciousness realises his folly and battles to wrest control from the demon Sha'kath, and thwart his plan to usurp Kael and use his former powers to turn Ethryn into a base from which to wage war on the rest of creation.

An enjoyable read with believable protagonists whose flaws become a source of strength and revelation, even if you haven't read all the other books.

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Clare View Drop Down
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  Quote Clare Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2014 at 7:26pm
In this book I enjoyed the time travel and element of serpent-eating-its-tail; a sinkhole created by a wizard brings sand from a future desert to a past building site where it is needed to make bricks for a huge tower. The wizard has his own reasons for getting rid of the sand. But what about if the sinkhole can't be stopped?
Clare O'Beara
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alias author Jan Hawke

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  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2014 at 9:45pm
Yes - there were some interesting avenues there that could have used some more investigation. Like whether some of the future workers ended up in the past as well? I found the references to Sherborne and Elyssiel rather strange as well, but I suppose that the next (and last?) book in the series will be doing a tie off job with this book and the earlier ones, so we might have some outstanding questions answered.

I saw your review for this one on Amazon Clare and agree with your remark about the endnotes for book club discussion being rather stilted and over-directional. I reviewed this on the assumption that it was aimed at a YA audience with a 'Bible Belt' bias, so I guess that might account for some of the storyline seeming to veer towards the naive in places but the time travel cycle mitigated the Mary Sue-ness factor for most of the characters, including the concubine, but I liked the demonic possession storyline that held some redemption for the nassssty Vizier and stopped it all getting too preachy.

As someone who has a very eclectic taste for fantasy this wasn't the most original story I've read but it was interesting to see bible tales translated into the genre for a change, even if it wasn't something I'd have picked up for my personal bookshelf ordinarily. Wink
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
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