Saturday, May 7, 2011

Power and Majesty

I really wanted to like Power and Majesty. Naff cover aside, it looked relatively decent and it was by a local author. Tansy Rayner Roberts hails from the Apple Isle of Tasmania.

It started off quite promisingly, a faux Renaissance setting, which for some reason kept making me think of Tasmanian capital Hobart, although it was very obviously based on one of the old European city states. Three young apprentices: the spoilt and flight Delphine, the no nonsense and practical Rhian and the shy and dreamy Velody find themselves in the bustling city of Aufleur and apprenticed. The three girls share a house and open their own business and that's about where things went off the rails.

Velody had long since managed to put some of the odd things she'd seen; a naked boy falling from the sky, mice following her around, to the back of her mind and establish a good, if unremarkable life for herself in Aufleur, and that's when she meets Ashiol, a noble, who advises her that she is one of the unknown society of the nox, those powerful individuals who rule the night and prevent Aufleur from being swallowed by the sky.

From that point on I felt the book lost focus. The people of the nox weren't described very well and there didn't seem to be any real reason that Velody was their leader; the Power and Majesty, other than the fact that she was the book's central character. I never bought her relationship with Ashiol and the only two characters I felt any sympathy for were the damaged Rhian (she was raped during one of the city's many festivals) and Velody's bodyguard MacCready.

Being a member of the Creature Court was confusingly outlined. Some could turn into animals and fight the sky, others couldn't. The more powerful ones could be hurt by a material called sky silver, but this was only wielded by the less powerful members. They seemed to be a cross between weres and vampires of some sort, with a bit of faery thrown in for good measure. I didn't understand the fight against the sky that seemed to go on every night.

The book's opening and the detailed glossary at the back showed that a huge amount of work and thought went into Power and Majesty, but it was let down by execution. It had real potential, but won't be recognised by me. There are further books in the series, one is already out, but I'm going to leave it with this one.

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