Fiona McIntosh, The Scrivener’s Tale, Sydney, Harper Voyager, 2012, 499 p.
What unexpectedly started as one ordinary man named Gabe working – and emotionally hiding – in Paris, McIntosh throws the audience and Gabe into another dimension where we find yet another one of her in depth faraway lands. Morgravia. It is then we leave a confused and frightened Gabe as he inwardly battles with the forces that dragged him there, and come to meet Cassien and Florentyna, inhabitants of this land. One some kind of ninja-monk, and the latter Queen of Morgravia struggling with the stresses of an unknown threat.
With several other points of view, as a good fantasy has, all the characters become intertwined to try and save their land…once again.
Now I say ‘once again’ because dumbarse here managed to miss reading The Quickening trilogy McIntosh wrote a good ten years back. The whole story is set in Morgravia and the characters are the ancestors of the characters in this new conflict. How I managed that I’ll never know. Anyway, I didn’t catch on until the bad guy starts talking about the history of Morgravia – and then CLICK! Yet the book wasn’t advertised as a follow on and although it would’ve given some parts context, it didn’t seem crucial to have read the other books first.
I felt like I didn’t get enough time to attach myself to the characters. The only one I was sticking with was Gabe naturally, being the first point of contact ‘I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve’ gentlemen. Then all of a sudden we don’t hear from him in a while. However I get it, we need time to find the others – and there were a few ‘oh snap’ moments when you start to put the pieces together regarding their backgrounds. One of the interesting characters is Darcelle – Florentyna’s naive younger sister. The kind of sister you want to ‘Batman and Robin’ slap. The whole time you are very unsure about her. Without giving too much away, I was most amused in a chapter where she has a bat shit crazy meltdown.
This is an easy and intriguing read. While McIntosh remains true to her wonderful sense of describing the dark age styled worlds, the story, being a follow on, is simple and to the point. It almost felt too short – not in a negative way I should add – we’re just in the age of trilogies, sagas and two-part movies so I’ve become attached to the commitment. There’s money to be had, people!
If you’re a Fiona fan, then add this one to your database – she does a little Percheron name drop too (squeal!).
P.S. I’ve done the righty and purchased The Quickening second hand. Still a dumbarse – just a little more educated.