Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jocelyn A. Fox's The Iron Sword - A review

When Tess O'Connor is invited to spend Thanksgiving in Texas with her best friend, Molly, she doesn't anticipate more than a quiet holiday in the middle of nowhere. However, things are not always as they seem. Sometimes dreams speak the truth and Tess discovers that Molly has been hiding a secret from everyone for years. 

Molly has been summoned to the Unseelie Court of the Sidhe and before she knows it, Tess is drawn into the mystical and dangerous world of the Fae. For there is darkness rising beyond the veil, and even though Tess knows she is no match for the evil stalking the Sidhe, she has no intention of leaving her best friend to face it alone...

Writing good fantasy is challenging - especially when it involves fairies. Let's face it, the world is so overwhelmed with zombies lately that little people who flutter around and glow just aren't getting the attention they once did when Peter Pan was new and Tinkerbell was a sex symbol (...really?). 

Fox's The Iron Sword reminds me why the fae once had such an important place in fantasy literature. 
I'm finding it hard to narrow down what I best liked about the novel for this review. Whenever I settle on one aspect, I realise there's another one I like more, and then another. What I'll start with is that I couldn't put the book down. Self-set curfews lost their meaning, morning bus schedules disappeared from my head - I just had to know what was coming next. And the worst part (best part) is that the chapters are shorter, all of them ending on a suspenseful note - so when I did manage to put it down to go to work, I was plagued for the rest of the day with the desire to know what happened.

Faeortalam, the fae world Fox has created, is also magnificent. It is a true utopia, crafted partly with ideas from our own world, partly with the fantastic and marvellous, with a very dark underlying structure, Faeortalam is a great place to lose yourself for an hour or ten. These Sidhe are not sweetness and rainbows and magic dust - they're stuck with the same flaws, conflicts of character, and dark sides as any human. And it's about to cause a lot of trouble in their world. 

While there is a wide array of characters - even the weapons having minds of their own - my favourite are the Glasidhe or the Small Folk. These guys are more like the Tinkerbells of this world. They're small, they glow, they flit around and deliver messages, and can kill things 5x their size. You know those times when you're reading a book and think, "Man, I wish that was real? I want one as a friend"? Yeah, that's the Glasidhe for me.

The Iron Sword has been described as "epic adventure" genre, and I would have to support that claim. It's fast-paced, fun, quest-driven, fun, beautifully written and fun. The first in a series, all I can say is that I wish Fox would take the time off work she needed to finish the next one. Please? 

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