My first review for the 2014 Australian Women Writers’ challenge. I’m very slow of the mark this year.
Years ago I read Canavan’s first trilogy set in this world – The Black Magician trilogy. I enjoyed it at the time, but hadn’t really followed up on any of Canavan’s other work. When looking for books for the 2014 Australian Women Writers challenge, the thought of continuing some adventures in the same world appealed.
Having been years since reading the first trilogy, it took me a while to re-orient myself in The Ambassador’s Mission. There was a bit of assumed knowledge in the first few chapters – assumed knowledge that I couldn’t quite bring to bear. It made the first part of the novel hard going – I couldn’t remember the rules of the world, exactly what black magic was (for instance), who the characters from the last trilogy were and their relationships with each other.
Once I got past that “entrance exam”, I remembered why I’d liked the first trilogy. Canavan has created an interesting world and this new book expanded that world significantly. The focus on different countries and cultures was very interesting.
Canavan makes interesting comments on same sex relationships and gendered power imbalances through some of her choices for her characters. The points are well made without being overwhelming and I think added to a more sophisticated feel for the book.
Having said all that, the plot is a little slow for my tastes and it didn’t feel like the characters were in enough “peril” (for want of a better word). I never strongly felt that there was a possibility that they would fail (or die), and without that I found it difficult to get as strongly engaged with the characters as I would have liked.
A great book and well worth the read, especially if you like a more sophisticated take on a secondary world fantasy.
I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.