“I know, I wish I could come up with something better than Wow for a review, but you feel as if you've been through a war and a whole heap of issues (barely unscathed) when you complete this novel.
Emerald has an underlying theology which I find mesmerizing. Isolated, stubbornly working alone, never asking for help (because of pride), it leaves us vulnerable. This is shown in the attack launched against the kingdoms. (and repeated again at the end between brothers). Kai says it with cutting insight right near the beginning of the book, it doesn't show a lack of intellect or strength to band together to fortify your position in this world, what it reveals is that isolation is most often created by greed (a lack of sharing your power), whereas the king calls it *rule*, Kai said...it's not giving up your rule, it's about giving up your power.
This philosophy is such a strong undercurrent in this magnificent book, that it's a sensitive observation of human nature, and it's explored wonderfully in a very real vivid otherworldly fantasy setting which very much comes to life. It breathes. Gosh it makes me so grateful we no longer have to walk everywhere and use horses to get from A to B.
Behind this epic setting is Kai, who is markedly different. Being the king's son is no easy task for any offspring, but it's a lot harder when you have to hide who you are because your father needs you to be as ruthless as he is *one day*. When who you are is rejected and marginalized by the very person who spawned you. This is an aspect to Emerald which I just fell in love with, because Kai is exceptional, he can do things we wish we could master, and his particular strength manifests at the beginning in the form of dreams (but that's just the tip of the iceberg).
Dreams are a language that has fascinated mankind from the get go of creation. So often our dreams are portents, they are riddles, warnings, prophecies, so many well known and revered men have had mystical encounters in dreams. Dreams are the language of the spirit, and they sometimes become increasingly difficult to shake off and dismiss as inconsequential. I find the recipe employed by this author magnificent because of the way she brings in what you could call *mystical insight*, it mirrors our very own religious tomes and the stories told of the men who shaped spirituality. This immediately set Kai apart for me because he had every single element required to be the incredible hero. When he's manipulated by Tafoya, you don't know how to react, you just react!
But despite what I'd call cutting psychological insight displayed by the author, this book is a sweeping thriller which I simply loved. The environment, the characters, the bad guys (they are really spine crawlingly repulsive), the battle, the politics, and of course the *humanity* which drives us all threaded throughout. Trust me this is a long and engaging read which makes you wish for a bygone era when magic was real, an Emerald could be wielded with might (oddly this reminds me of all those tests done on crystals... again I think the author touches on a real mystical truth here)... it reaches a crescendo which is gripping and you won't be able to stop reading. It starts off sedate but don't be fooled into thinking that is the pace of the book. The amount of detail the author adds to bring this world to life, the heartbreak, it's all really engaging and very emotive. She weaves you into the tapestry of this book that it literally breathes around you while it captivates your mind. And when you think it's finally over, she throws in a twist for you.
Kai is a hero you cannot help but love, and I was drawn in right from the beginning when he's torn... it's a battle we all face - do we make our parents happy, or do we become selfish and make ourselves happy. We are raised to put responsibility first (read "make your parents happy"), but sometimes your heart and inherent strengths make the choice for you. In this book it's so satisfying to see the two merge into one (incredibly satisfying).
This is a war being waged. Oddly with great power comes great responsibility. (That old adage - that you wish you could shake into his father fairly often). Kai's power forces him to be focused, be responsible, and to be self-sacrificing. It was this that tore me in two. The dialog was very realistic even though this is set in a fantasy world. Ronar, Daman, Niron, Lemek, Fodongo, Maleki, Ason and Cy.... eventually you feel like one of the boys watching them plot and plan, and I loved the way they challenge each other. Saria, is a special character for me because I read these books the wrong way round (that's me for you.) (That a lady is part of the hero team and in on the action, with Zhera - just awesome)
There are times when you read a book and you are right there with your heart in your throat and 100% a part of the action, this is one of those books, the tension was getting to me because Hamilton has a way of winding tension so slowly you don't even realize she's strangling you. She calms each moment briefly with surprising practicality as if this woman really has been in an army, off to war, the old fashioned way. The Orahim have to be the most repulsive creatures created in fantasy (forget orks, fear the Orahim), and their method of attack is so real, so plausible, that every attack has you holding your breath. When Kai is under the command of the Gava, god you think you're going to BURST! And yet this author also throws in the odd humor and breaks the tension for you with a smile.
I can't praise this work enough. The added romantic element balanced the war and drama for me. Cy and Kai and Saria will give you chills, make you cry, and drag you along in the drama. I freaking loved it! The ending is so emotive! ”
“Awesome! That's really all I can say about this book - Awesome! Unfortunately, that's not really enough words to write a review so I'll try to expand on that a little bit. First off, I LOVE stories about mermaids! Most of them are about nice, friendly, beautiful mermaids who go out of their way to help humans, but this one sets itself apart from the others from the get go. As Calder (the male narrator, which I also loved) explains it, "She seriously did not get this at all. She obviously had some Disney version of mermaids in her head. I wondered how she'd respond when I told her the truth. That we were murderers, monsters, fiends. That I'd lured her out here to kill her. That I was doing everything within my power to fight against nature."
Merpeople can't produce their own emotions apparently, so to prevent them from going into a deep depression, they "steal" the good emotions from humans, killing them in the process so they can "wring out" every last drop of happiness! I really love that the author took a much darker look at merpeople and made them predators. It really worked for this story and I was hooked almost from the beginning.
I have to admit that Calder and his three sisters, Maris, Pavati and Tallulah, weren't really likable at the start of the book, but that made Calder's transformation and growth stand out even more. There was definite character development there! I also thought the pacing was great, and there were just the right number of action scenes vs. emotional ones.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book and find it very hard to believe that this is a debut novel, but it is! I will definitely be reading more from Anne Greenwood Brown in the future, and can't wait to read Lies Beneath #2 to find out what happens with Lily and Calder :)”
“This was a great story and the world of Loden is definitely as intriguing as the characters she creates. She does a great job developing good, bad, and not quite so sure what their angle is characters. I am hooked and will have to read more about the world she shared with us. ”Steven R Burke wrote this review Tuesday, March 13, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No