I've been a reviewer since February 2001, when I began writing for my local newspaper. In 2010 the paper did away with their arts section and I went completely online. I review science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and dystopian in young adult and mainstream adult. I'm also interested in travel writing, history, and general non-fiction, but my main focus is sci-fi/fantasy.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Hanna has spent her life hearing about the adventures of her namesake Ananna, the lady pirate, and assassin Naji. She dreams of the same adventures, but little does she know she is about to tumble into one of her own. Hanna is apprenticed to a taciturn fisherman called Kolur, and, during a day of storms and darkness, are swept wildly off course.
In this strange new land, Kolur hires a stranger to join the crew and, rather than heading home, sets a course for the dangerous island of Jadanvar. As Hanna meets a secretive merboy, and learns that Kolur has a deadly past, she soon realizes that wishing for adventures is a dangerous game - because those wishes might come true.”
I’ve come to the conclusion that Clarke does best when writing science fiction. Her standalone sci-fi novel The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was a beautiful book that I absolutely loved. I’ve also read her novel The Assassin’s Curse, which is set in the same world as The Wizard’s Promise and I was less enthusiastic about it. It’s not that they’re badly written, it’s just that nothing much seems to happen.
It was especially frustrating for me in this book, because on top of not much happening, the main character Hanna spends an inordinate amount of time asking questions that never get answered. Other characters either outright ignore her or redirect the conversation. It reminds me of a scene in one of the most recent episodes of Game of Thrones. Joffrey and Margaery have just gotten married and Joffrey gets into a confrontation with his uncle Tyrion at the wedding feast. Just as the tension gets really high, Margaery deflects Joffrey’s attention by exclaiming “Oh look, a pie!” Taken by this standard, The Wizard’s Promise is filled with metaphorical pie. And it’s not pie that serves the plot either—it seems to be useless pie, which is something I didn’t know existed until now.
I do have to say that Clarke does an amazing job of creating a world. Her descriptions are vivid and colorful, and I had no trouble visualizing where things were happening. There’s magic weaving through this backdrop, and it comes carried on a deadly mist that hides the monsters within. Whether on a breeze or in a massive storm, the magic in this world arrives suddenly and can be uncontrollable.
I didn’t feel that Hanna was all that fleshed out, but then again, she didn’t have much to do. She calls the winds and catches fish, and has conversations with other characters that go nowhere. That’s about the extent of what she does, barring a few moments of excitement. While I do understand that this is a duology and I shouldn’t expect all the answers up front, I still think that the author could have given us more to like in Hanna by letting her do more.
This book isn’t bad, per se, but I did find myself getting a little bored as the same scenes played out over and over. The Wizard’s Promise should appeal to those who liked her other duology in the same world, but if you haven’t read and liked those two books, you should probably skip this one.
This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on May 9, 2014.
Title provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley.