by C. S. Friedman.
I have been labeling this book as fantasy horror, though I am not sure that is even a genre. That at least is the closest thing I can come up with when it comes to the theme of this book; the basics is pretty much bog standard fantasy stuff - some lowborn person (in this case Kamala, with a darker past than most such protagonists) wants to be a kickass wizard, war is brewing, a prince is down with serious sickness, dark creatures threaten borders and so on and so forth. Just like the author's other books, the devil is in the details here. The book is mostly about sorcery, and while most books tends to use magic as some kind of handwaving noone understands it thing, Friedman makes it rich and properly... magical. The price of power is where it's at; some tap their own soul and die early to fuel their magic, others tap other people's souls (and thus end up immortal). The world in which the book is set is pretty much a generic fantasy world, although you get better insight in relations between the sorcerers and the bog standard people than in most other works, making it seem more "real" and fuels immersion.
The book - being the first of a trilogy - certainly feels like just that. You get to know the people, tension are built between those you see as main participants, some obscure ones rise and fall for various couses, but nothing really surprising happens. I seldom like the first books in trilogies.. The characters are allright, though some of them are what I see as archtypes - which something being a first book just fuels up under I suppose. I like how it handles the magic bit, and how the wizards/sorcerors/witches interact, though it isn't enough to push the rest of the book up into the sky. The writing - like usual when it comes to Friedman - is nice, and often pushed reading further on by itself.
My main grief with the book is when it comes to all things shallow. The characters, being even more secretive than usual (some of them being immortal wizards might explain bits) and some characters being fantasy tropes and archtypes, never really makes for "oh that was surprising, did he just do that?" "I really need to read the next chapter to find out what happens to her" moments. I am not a big fan of large potions of scenery descriptions or interaction with the plebs in a high fantasy world about customs or trade or how they interact, but here even I find it lacking. OH NOES THE WORLD NEEDS SAVING!1! "So what, it's outside the palace wall," I say. And while I enjoy the magic and magician interacting, it isn't really that uncommon anymore, so my interest in reading about it isn't that breathtaking as it once was either, not to carry a book at any rate.
But afterall, all of the issues I have with the book are standard first part of trilogy problems - I still hold the Coldfire Trilogy as one of my favorites, and I found the first book there too something of a bore, and it took a long time before I started reading the next ones. So I might have to give the two others a chance when they come out even if I wasn't thrilled with this one, it was afterall not horrible.