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5 December 2013

paperback, published DAW, September 2013. Reviewed by Steve Johnson.

I was introduced to Tanya Huffs books about twenty years back by Lyn, who’s been buying them a lot longer than that and had almost all of them to date. I liked them and began to buy the new ones while looking for the older ones as they turned up – a trip to the USA in 2001 filled out the last of those I didn’t already have (and wanted) of the earlier books. My problem with the books of more recent years, is that I’d have liked them still  better if they were edited more for pace and length. They’re well-written and readable, but with the last three I’ve found it initially hard to get into them. It’s fine once I’m a 100 pages in, but until then I struggle, and the almost 500 pages of Silvered bogged me down in places. There are areas where editing for a faster pace would have been an improvement, and starting the book on a more involving note would have drawn me in better. But it’s still a good book and considering I’m not a huge fan of steampunk or doorstop books, it did very well to keep me interested and deciding to retain the book.

This is a militaristic fantasy. An empire next door to a smaller country has invaded them because of a prophesy by a bunch of idiots. Mirian Maylin lives in one of the cities about to be invaded and is fleeing to a safer site with her parents, until on the road she witnesses the kidnapping of five mage women and knows that this information needs to be passed on to the country’s leaders. Leaving her parents she begins to travel back to the warzone, oblivious to the fact that she too is being hunted by the enemy. She is captured by them, freed by a young man, and together they combine in a mad attempt to sneak across the Empire border to find and free the five captives. Of course there’s a lot more to it, with werewolves, soothsayers (the idiots mentioned) a mad emperor, magic, romance, and generally odd events. The book is a mix of military, quest, some coming-of-age, and a steampunk atmosphere. I enjoyed it once I got into the story and characters and recommend it to those who think they’d like that sort of mix.

Lyn McConchie – having read this book too, I suspect that the author is a Georgette Heyer fan. I found what to me read like overtones of The Spanish Bride including the name of one of that book’s main characters, here used as a minor one.

One pit bull cavorting past and through the sheep, along with the dog of a chap visiting next door. Said chap observed my flock look up casually at the canine duo, and go back to dozing with no indication of worry. He was surprised. I wasn’t. My sheep haven’t been worked with a dog for 20 years and after a number of generations seem to have forgotten that system. Duke often does gallop around them and since that does not include attacks, I think the flock have come to the conclusion that he’s actually a rather odd-looking sheep. My hens seem to agree as none of them are bothered when he rushes past either although he got a very ‘upmarket’ reaction yesterday when he stuck his nose into Tawny hen’s bloomers. She rounded on him like some offended duchess out of Downton – but she wasn’t scared, just irked at the personal invasion.

WHAT’S FAIR AND RIGHT (A brief cynical look at a Few Expectations.) appeared in FREELANCE WRITERS MAGAZINE issue of December 2013. This started as a light-hearted complaint about publishers, and went on from there to cover dogs, cats, homes, and other thoughts.

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