June 2024
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Harshini, Jennifer Fallon

After a slow start in Medalon, Jennifer Fallon reached her stride in Treason Keep, and with Harshini really shows that she can write. I have some minor plot qualms, but I really enjoyed this book.

The major qualm is something that I read in other reviews before I began the book, and I found it to be true; the gods are used often as a deus ex machina. In the previous two books, R’shiel could call on them and they sometimes listened to her, but here they obeyed her without question and allowed her an easy out most of the time. While this is bad, I think it’s also understandable. The gods need R’shiel to do what they cannot, and naturally they want to convince her to continue, so helping her is the obvious choice for them. Moreover, their power is definitely shown in the previous two books, so it isn’t as though the reader is unaware that they can perform these feats. It is more a problem that R’shiel uses them when she should be using her own intelligence to get herself out of a bad situation. If she was relying on herself, the book would have been better, because the heroine would have been stronger.

That said, R’shiel has become practically omnipotent in this book, and she has grown quite a bit. She is the demon child, after all, destined to destroy a god, and we get the idea that she has finally settled into and accepted her destiny. I like that she doesn’t always have the answer, even though she thinks she does. She’s much more human that way.

My favorite character is undoubtedly still Adrina, who is surprisingly lovable and obstinate and clever. She really shows her intelligence and doesn’t rely on anything but her mind and her will, which in contrast to R’shiel is very striking.

This is the first book of the trilogy with writing that didn’t make me cringe in parts. Treason Keep was undoubtedly better than Medalon, but Harshini swept me along so that I didn’t even notice if there was any awkwardness, a sure sign that Ms. Fallon has improved.

Overall, I found the book very engaging, the characters endearing if sometimes a bit flat (Mandah in particular), and the resolution satisfying. Jennifer Fallon is not a master of fantasy yet and I wouldn’t list these books among my favorites, but I liked them. Some reviewers declare that she is very good at balancing political entanglements, but I would ask them to read George R.R. Martin or Jacqueline Carey before making such a grandiose statement. There are politics, but not nearly on the level those authors can muster up. I would call the Demon Child trilogy an entertaining read, but not one that is likely to stick in the mind for very long.


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