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Book Review: Aurian by Maggie Furey

Title: Aurian

Author: Maggie Furey

Series: Artefacts of Power #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: In ages past, there had been four magical weapons, fashioned to be used only by the Magefolk. But their history had been lost, together with the Artefacts themselves, in the Cataclysm which had wrought changes on land and water alike. Lost also had been the history of the Magefolk, and the Winged Ones, the Leviathans and Phaerie. Aurian, the child of renegade Mages, finds herself sent to the city of Nexis to join the Academy and then train as a full Mage. Little does she suspect that she will quickly become entwined with a power struggle between Miathan, the Archmage, and the human inhabitants of Nexis. The only person to whom she can turn in Forral, Commander of the city’s military garrison and friend of her dead father. But this friendship infuriates Miathan, and leads to a deadly conflagration, in which the first Artefact is revealed. Aurian’s flight, with her servant Anvar, turns into both odyssey and rite-of-passage as she travels to the little-known Southern Kingdoms and begins to rediscover the history of the weapons which are the only hope against Miathan and Armageddon – The Artefacts of Power! -Goodreads

The Review:

Okay, so this book is not very recommendable… but I still enjoyed it.

The thing I liked most about Aurian was it’s unconventionality. Written in 1994 before writing fantasy novels as a profession was really popular, Furey’s story does not follow a formulaic plot structure in the slightest. I’ve been to the writing conventions. I subscribe to advice newsletters from my favorite authors. The basic writing strategy these days seem to all the same ideas of how to structure your story to make money. While many authors are better at putting their own spin on it than others, it’s hard for me to ignore it some days.

This is why I continued to remain intrigued by Aurian throughout the whole novel: it was so all over the place that I had no f&@$ing idea what was going to happen next, and that was oddly refreshing.

The characters left a lot to be desired. Primarily because their behavior was unrealistic. They would swing from one dramatic emotional state to another at the drop of a hat. Very much like watching the rapid mood swings of a four year old. There was no subtlety or nuance to their behavior at all, just very black and white outlooks on things. They either loved fiercely or hated viciously. Often within the same couple of paragraphs. Then back again. It sort of reminded me of overdramatized classic silent films where the emotion had to be overdone to make sure it was conveyed correctly to the audience. Even though no one really acts that way, there’s no doubt in the readers mind what emotion the author was representing. It was also one of those books where the extreme emotional outbursts made me feel second-hand frustration on behalf of the characters involved, which wasn’t exactly pleasant.

The characters also had very black-and-white thinking and would flip flop between these extremes with frightening ease. There was no subtly or nuance of character, nor any real significant growth because the changes in thoughts/behavior were abrupt and not earned through experience and logic. In some ways it felt like reading about a bunch of children, which kept me from connecting with any of the characters and took away from the maturity of the novel as a whole. As you can imagine, the dialogue followed in line with the character profiles – very basic. All of this did work well to convey the general emotion of the characters. You could definitely always tell exactly what they were feeling.

I mentioned the plot meandered a lot. There seemed to be a lot of setup for certain events in the book, but every time I thought we were getting grounded into the meat of the story, something random would happen and we’d be back to establishing a new scenario. I had an idea what we were working towards by about the 75% mark, but even then it kept going with the tangents up to the very end.

So, basically all of the things that together made it a fun unconventional read also made it hard to support. What’s more, the book is ONLY available in a mass market paperback with the world’s tiniest print or a ridiculously expensive hardcover. No ebook, no audiobook (in the US, anyway). Not that my review is gearing anyone to go pick one up.

Recommendations: this is a great pick if you want a character-driven classic fantasy adventure novel with easy, flowing writing… provided that you don’t mind illogical and over-emotional characters.

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