Author: Tanya Huff
Book Name: Sing the Four Quarters
Blurb: The Bards of Shkoder hold the country together. They, and the elemental spirits they Sing – earth, air, fire, and water – bring the news of the sea to the mountains, news of the mountains to the plains. They give their people, from peasant to king, a song in common.
Annice is a rare talent, able to Sing all four quarters, but her brother, the newly enthroned King Theron, sees her request to study at the Bardic Hall as a betrayal. To his surprise, Annice accepts his conditions, renouncing her royal blood and swearing to remain childless so as not to jeopardize the line of succession. She walks away from political responsibilities, royal privilege and her family.
Ten years later, Annice has become the Princess Bard and her real life is about to become the exact opposite of the overwrought ballad her fellow students at the Bardic Hall wrote about her. Now, she’s on the run from the Royal Guards with the Duc of Ohrid, the father of her unborn child, both of them guilty of treason – one of them unjustly accused. To save the Duc’s life, they’ll have to cross the country, manage to keep from strangling each other, and defeat an enemy too damaged for even a Bard’s song to reach.
Review: Not really sure how I felt about this one. It was an okay story, but I had a really hard time getting pulled into it or having any kind of an emotional connection with the characters. Not that they were bad or anything, but there was just so much that seemed to be missing that I never really got to understand them or even the world this was set in.
There were lots of concepts and ideas that were tossed around that you could only ever make some very general assumptions about because they were never explained. I think a huge portion of this was based on the world’s belief system, but with little to no details provided to help the reader understand what that was made it incredibly difficult to grasp a character’s behavior or how those beliefs either enhanced or limited their abilities, if it did at all.
I guess it just felt like there were a lot of important details missing or that they were never fully fleshed out.
Author: Tanya Huff
Book Name: The Enchantment Emporium
Series: Gale Women
Rating: Really Good
Blurb: Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms they cast. Then she receives word that she’s inherited her grandmother’s junk shop in Calgary, only to discover upon arriving that she’ll be serving the fey community. And when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day.
Review: There were a lot more things about this book that I liked than I didn’t, but it was a frustrating read because there is a whole heck of a lot that is left really vague.
Obviously, the Gale family has some form of magic available to them, even a bit of shape shifting for the men, but we never actually know what they are or get a more definitive understanding of what they are capable of so you never really understand why they are a power that is so heavily respected by others. You see examples of that power, but you are never allowed to actually understand it. There is a kind of throw away comment made by the bad guy at one point that may hint at a history, but it is done in a way that you can’t exactly take is seriously.
It is also left pretty far open and unclarified, but heavily suggested that there is a level of non-monogamous relationships in the gale family. Again this is left implied, but vague because there are apparently exceptions to that rule. Oh and there isn’t an actual sex scene in the book (which seems a little odd for a group of characters that are apparently highly sexual) and that only emphasizes the heavily suggested and implied. Not only is there a level of open sexuality, but those open sexual relationships appear to exist between cousins as well. It doesn’t outright say it, but again, heavily implied (which kind of felt way on the ick side to me). All of that kind of just muddied the waters of what is already a vague set up for the Gale family and their dynamics.
There was a bunch of random jumping from character perspective to character perspective and it wasn’t always something that the reader could even easily determine which character’s perspective they were getting, at least for the first 1/3 of the book or so. After that, character identity was a bit easier to pick out, but it made it difficult to get into the story early on.
All of that said and once you got past the vagueness to the parts that were clear, I really did love the story and what I could figure out of the main characters. The world created here is intriguing and I want to know a lot more about it than what I got in this one book. Same thing with some of the secondary characters. I’m just hoping that book 2 clears some things up.