Friday, June 21, 2013

Antiagon Fire by L.E. Modesitt

 As soon as Quaeryt has recovered from his latest escapades - eliminating the entire leadership of Bovaria in one mighty ice storm - his job well done is rewarded with another job. He and Vaelora are sent as her brother's personal representatives to Khel, to attempt to convince the High Council there to join the rapidly unifying kingdom. Someone had a joke once about reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy that went, "...walking, walking, walking..." and I felt a bit like that with this book, wherein far too much time was spent on the journey through the countryside on the way to Khel, meeting with factors, meeting with townsfolk, rescuing fair maidens, bringing high holders to their knees, and fighting a series of minor skirmishes.

When they finally do get to Khel, the High Council there won't meet with them unless they pass a trial by combat sort of ritual, which seems to me to go far too quickly and smoothly; Quaeryt doesn't even break a sweat. Despite his success, the council decides to delay joining Bhayar's allies at this point, as they are not convinced that they cannot get a better deal later on, despite it being pointed out to them that it is highly likely that their position will be far more precarious later.

Returning from Khel to the borders of Bovaria, Quaeryt and his favorite commander, Skarpa, decide to run an end around play and go ahead and launch a surprise attack into Antiago, which will, if it succeeds, bring down another of Bhayar's enemies and bring Khel to the point of being the last holdout much more rapidly. This campaign takes place in the last fifty or so pages of the book, and it seemed to me that Modesitt really rushed through things here. The book is, after all, called Antiagon Fire, and it seemed like the majority of it should have dealt with that part of the campaign to me. Maybe that's why they don't let me write these things, eh?

Again, Quaeryt nearly single-handedly destroys the entire capital city, its ruler and all of the nobles by creating a massive earthquake. One problem with this whole subset of the series is that the imagers of Quaeryt's band, including himself, are far too powerful, destroying and creating massive structures near effortlessly. In the first batch of the Imager Portfolio stories, which take place at a future time, imagers are far more limited in their powers, so it makes one wonder how things got from here to there, so to speak. Also, it brings up the problem that I often see in paranormal novels with characters who come into great power too quickly, it just leaves so little room for growth and discovering new, interesting powers. With the amount of power Quaeryt has, there doesn't seem to be any reason why Bhayar doesn't just detail a large enough squad of men to protect him, then send him to any capital city that refuses his entreaties and ...Boom!

I think Modesitt may be growing as bored with this series as I. Unfortunate, as I really loved where it seemed to be headed in the first couple of books. Thanks be that I'm not buying any of them, they show up rapidly at the public library.

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