RELEASE DATE: 26 June 2012
FORMAT: Paperback, 672 pages
Sorne, the estranged son of a King on the verge of madness, is being raised as a weapon to wield against the mystical Wyrds. Half a continent away, his father is planning to lay siege to the Celestial City, the home of the T En, whose wyrd blood the mundane population have come to despise. Within the City, Imoshen, the only mystic to be raised by men, is desperately trying to hold her people together. A generations long feud between the men of the Brotherhoods and the women of the sacred Sisterhoods is about to come to a head.
With war without and war within, can an entire race survive the hatred of a nation? Rowena Cory Daniells, the creator of the bestselling Chronicles of King Rolen s Kin, brings you a stunning new fantasy epic, steeped in magic and forged in war. (Goodreads)
The story starts with life and death. King Charald and his advisors wait while the Queen gives birth to the new heir and when he is born a half breed the King decides to poison her. The high priest who is the Queen’s relative negotiates to keep the baby Sorne, in order to raise him to fight against the Wyrd and secretly to defeat the murderous King. In another part of the Kingdom the men of the brotherhood plot to keep their leader’s baby girl, Imoshen hidden from the more powerful sisterhood.
The brotherhood have been forced for centuries to give up their babies to the sisterhood to be raised until they are 17 when they are allowed back with their clan. The sisterhood are more powerful and the brotherhood hope to use the girl as a tool to defeat them. The final main character in this story is Victtoryxe who is ambitious within the sisterhood. She will do anything including betraying her own sisters in order to gain power and position. The story courses through the decades as Sorne and Imoshen grow up manipulated and tricked by those that are supposed to care for them. The plot focuses on the conflict between the difference races with the true men hating the Wyrd and the Wryd fighting between and within themselves for supremacy and power.
Daniells creates a complex world for her story with multi layered societies and a number of different races and it is up to the reader to try figure out how everything fits together. There was relatively little background or history given so that you could fully understand the politics at play. The description of the environment is relatively sparse as is the description of the characters themselves. I can’t say that the characters were one dimensional but rather, just not fully developed or as well rounded as in other novels of the same genre. The bulk of the novel was spent introducing new characters and setting the scene for the few final chapters. It was very face paced as we were rushed to the finish line.
I feel I must justify this review by saying that I am a big fan of fantasy and a number of my favourite books are epic fantasy. I was, therefore, quite disappointed that I was not drawn into the first instalment of the Outcast Chronicles. There were so many characters I was constantly having to re-read chapters, especially the first 5-6 so that I could try to piece together who was who, how they were related, their race and their part in the over plot arc. I have always appreciated when authors include a family tree when there are a large number of characters, as simply put makes things less confusing. There also wasn’t a character that I really warmed to, which made it difficult for me to care too much what happened to them. With a book this long you really need to care about at least one character to keep you to the end game. I do not have an aversion to a complex plot but the lack of character building made it very difficult to get caught up in the intrigue of the plot. Overall, I found that the book was a real struggle to read.
BESIEGED failed to engage me due to the overt complexity of the plot and lack of a true hero/heroine. I admired Daniell’s world building but the lack of context and background made the complexity more confusing rather than an intriguing puzzle to solve. I found I kept having to go back and re-read whole chapters just to remind myself who was who and who they were related to. Sometimes less really is more.
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