Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Review: Blackstone: Drawing the Circle - Jason A Beineke
Extent: eBook (372 KB)
Pub Date: 6th July 2011
Blackstone is a mercenary sorcerer who does not rule any valleys and has yet to be bound to another sorcerer. Undertaking work for the sorceress queen, Spiral, he finds himself the expendable pawn in an assassination mission. Turning against the queen he fights Spiral’s loyal sorcerers and finds himself tasked with the guardianship of the marked man’s son. As the two flee from Spiral they have to work through their mutual bitterness and distrust of each other. A new tangle is thrown into their relationship when Blackstone frees a werewolf from her cage set in a town square and reverts the werewolf back to a young woman, cursed since childhood with lycanthropy.
Fleeing from the townsfolk who had previously kept the young werewolf, Loralune, captive, the three person band must confront Loralune’s transformation under the full moon, the posse that runs them to ground and a sorceress looking for revenge against Hiroe and Blackstone. Survival against these threats leaves them vulnerable to other, more insidious dangers.
I think high fantasy is one of those genres that can go epically wrong as well as epically right, it is the domain of extreme imagination and a big mistake is to think that all readers are going to get along with the writer’s imagination, with a completely new world. I am very happy to say that Jason Beineke’s book is one of those high fantasies that has gone epically right.
Often my big beef with high fantasies is that authors can lose their characters in their efforts to establish the world they have created but in Drawing the Circle, the characters are really at the forefront of the story. I’m not saying Jason has neglected his world-building, far from it. He has a really beautiful, lyrical way of drawing the reader through Blackstone’s world, creating vivid settings and fascinating cultures. Jason’s heroes are really complex and engaging. I love a band of misfits thrown together by fate, and these three really are on the peripheries of society: a mercenary sorcerer, an orphan of unknown potential and a werewolf. I’m particularly grateful to Jason for going back to the roots of lycanthropy, before changing into a wolf at the full moon became sexy. He creates a terrifying experience for readers and a real sense of pity for Loralune, forced to undergo this painful and hideous transformation at night. Hiroe and Blackstone’s relationship, I think, is the real cornerstone to this story. Two people who come together because they were fighting on opposite sides in a battle and then forced together by Hiroe’s slain father. Resenting each other’s presence to begin with, the growth in their relationship is really touching to read and is a real testament to the written character.
Beware, however, because within these pages you will encounter some of the most hideous evil forces that usually only inhabit the darkest parts of your worst nightmares. I’m a real advocate for the “bad guy” and Jason’s dark forces really turned my stomach, sitting vividly in my imagination not only whilst I was reading but also when I had put the book down. It’s a great test of an evil character if they stay with you long after you’ve finished the book!
I’m really glad Jason sent me his book to read as it really is the kind of book that keeps my faith in epic fantasy and leaves me wanting more. The characters are really strong and individual and as the story developed I became really attached to them, but it’s not as if the story itself was any less important. It’s a really gripping story line with a fantastic twist that has strange dreamlike qualities: you have an inkling that something isn’t quite right but you’re not sure if your suspicions are correct. It keeps you turning the pages, busting to know what is actually going on. And now I’m busting to read the next in the series!
Find out more about Jason Beineke and his books on his blog.