Monday, 6 August 2007

CFRB Tour: The Duke's Handmaid - my review

I didn’t hesitate in buying this book after discovering it’s all about a planet with two suns and the lives of the people there. As I began to read, I found it hard going for a while – the incredible pace of the first few chapters, combined with a crash course on the customs of Byntar, was a fair challenge. But it was worth it. Once I grew accustomed to some very original peculiarities of grammar and speech, I was immersed in this alien culture and better able to see the depth of the characters amidst a great deal of action.

This is not a tale for the squeamish. There are scenes of intense violence, revenge and cruelty that actually made my skin crawl. Any culture that practices slavery must needs be a harsh kind of environment.

Yet through it all sparkles the character of Keedrina, the heroine. She longs only to be the bond-slave of the young Duke and wear his fetters to serve him. It is not an easy road she chooses, but he wins her heart at first sight, giving her an endless motivation to seek her goal.

It is a gripping story, well-told and obviously based on a large world-building project. In fact, it reads like a fairytale in many places as it sways between horror and passion. At the end, some issues are still unresolved, but there is apparently a second book. I won’t spoil the story’s hapy ending for you. Enough to say that this fancifully woven tapestry is not even remotely like any other book I’ve ever read.

It doesn’t read like a Christian story at all. The hero and heroine, and many other actors, all show a strong sense of morals and justice, but the gods mentioned incidentally are local ones and don’t seem to do much. So although the author is a Christian, I’m sure this book could make it on the secular market.

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