Sunday, February 6, 2011

a fine line between flattery and imitation; the heir of night by helen lowe resonates with a song of ice and fire ...

This book is the first in a series, of course, it wouldn’t be in the fantasy genre if it wasn’t, but The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe is actually fit for the praise best-selling author and fantasy Queen Robin Hobb gives it; “a richly told tale.”
Unfortunately however, there are strong similarities to the great classic series A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin and which is being turned into an HBO TV series called Game of Thrones after the first book of the series.
We have a lordly family living far from the kingdom’s capital, hard up against a “barrier” that many have forgotten protects the population from the “Night” and the “cold” … quite a few similarities already.
Add in a devastating attack at night, the intervention of unknown outsiders, the possibility of magic and the miraculous escape of the only heir and one might think that Lowe was copying rather too obviously.
However, The Heir of Night redeems itself through the intricate – and different – history and culture of this fantasy world; there are other bits and pieces too that make this not an actual copy of the classic series.
But Lowe has walked a very fine line – particularly when it comes to mad fans I would expect.
The central character is Malian, a girl who is not yet a woman but already the heir to her very cold, very distant father’s lordship and responsibility.
An invasion from beyond the wall that the family protects against finds Malian with her back against the wall, quite literally, and forces her to realise her hidden magical potential – something to be feared not only for its power but because it will bar her from rulership.
Lowe’s pacing is good, the action scenes are believable and her characters fully-fleshed out in many ways – although there are a fair few stereotypes filling up the plot’s gaps.
It will be interesting to see if Lowe can move the story forward in such a way as to remove more of the similarities to A Song of Ice and Fire; I hope so.

The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe is published by Orbit Books and is available at all good book stores and online. The next book in the series is The Gathering of The Lost.


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