Jacqueline Carey – "Banewreaker: The Sundering I"

18 Nov

GENRE: Fantasy
PUBLISHED: Tor Book, 2005

The back blurb:
“Once upon a time, the Seven Shapers dwelled in accord and Shaped the world to their will. But Satoris, the youngest among them, was deemed too generous in his gift to the race of Men, and so began the Shapers’ War, which Sundered the world. Now six of the Shapers lay to one end of the ocean, and Satoris to the other, reviled by even the race of Men.
Satoris sits in his Darkhaven, surrounded by his allies. Chief among t hem is Tanaros Blacksword, immortal Commander General of his army. Once a mortal man who was betrayed by King and Wife, Tanaros fled to Darkhaven a thousand years ago, and in Satoris service has redeemed his honor – but left his humanity behind.
Now there is a new prophecy that tells of Satoris’s destruction and the redemption of the world. To thwart it, Satoris sends Tanaros to capture the Lady of the Ellylon, the beautiful Cerelinde, to prevent her alliance with the last High King of Men.
But Tanaros discovers that not all of his heart has been lost – and his feelings for Cerelinde could doom Satoris, but save the race of Men …”

There are two epigraphs in this book that sum up its concern rather well. The first one is on the back cover:

“If all that is good thinks you’re evil … are you?”

And the second one is a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost placed inside the book:

So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,
Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;
Evil be thou my Good.

Jacqueline Carey’s Banewreaker is about “the other side”. It tells the story of the bad guys, and it tells it convincingly. You have to ask yourself: “Are these guys really the bad guys?”

To keep the perspectives clear, Carey makes heavy use of well-known fantasy books. There are similarities in names to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and large chunks of the story and background seem to be Lord of the Rings – The Other Side, especially if you also read Tolkien’s other books. Carey’s concept of “the Ways” seems to be straight out of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. There are probably more that I don’t know about.

This surface of a melting pot of well known fantasy stories might be annoying, but I see it as a means to remind the reader that he is reading the story as seen and experienced on the “bad guys side” and not, as it’s normally the case, on the “good guys side”. Because reading this book without (getting) these constant references and reminders of other fantasy stories, will have you routing for the “bad guys”. I know I want them to win (which I’m pretty sure they won’t; waiting for the second part in paperback).

So if you’re not too annoyed by a surface of blatant “burrowing”, Jacqueline Carey’s well written Banewreaker asks an interesting question:

“If all that is good thinks you’re evil … are you?”

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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