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Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of Bookbridgr
Cover: Pretty, stands out.
For Fans Of: Game Of Thrones
When making the choice to read Smiler's Fair I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Not fully. But I fear I have lost myself to another epic series! When reading the blurb, I was intrigued. Gods, magic, a moving carnival, and five people all separate but linked by one place, the Smiler's Fair. I was working off the assumption that these five would band together to help out Yron/Krish, and they'd be like a little group of people starting a revolution or something. I was very very wrong. But very very pleased I was wrong.
The prologue adequately sets the scene. A Queen about to give birth any moment, a prophecy of her son killing his father means death for the baby when it's born. But before it can be truly born, Queen and maid cut it out and he's spirited away in the night. The next chapter we see Smiler's Fair for the first time, a whirling glimpse of wonder, as well as being introduced, sort of, to our characters.
From there the story goes. We follow Nethmi to her new husbands lands, where she meets Jinn who brings her to his cause...to find the lost Prince, who is Yron reborn. A murder means she must flee and not go back, and where else to flee but the Smiler's Fair? Dae Hyo. Permanently drunk and out for vengeance for what happened to his people, but when he meets Krish, he finally finds a brother willing to stand with him. Marvan, the shady bloke who enjoys killing in a psychotic, "you walked out of an episode of Criminal Minds" way. Eric, the whore who finds love, only to have it cruelly snatched away and sold in to slavery. Except this slavery is to the Sun Goddess, and he has a much bigger role to play in the battle between the Sun and the Moon. Krish himself, a simple goatherd, driven to murder, thus bringing his destiny to him. Forced to flee his father's men hunting him, finding a brother along the way and eventually starting out on his quest to take his rightful place.
I'd give you more information, I really would but I don't want to give too much away, and it's 404 pages of awesome that kind of makes you feel like you've been reading for weeks and have been on this immense and long journey with them, so I'm sure i'd have forgotten things!
If you're looking at the authors name and "hmmmm"ing, thinking to yourself "oh she sounds familiar", well, if you're a Doctor Who fan, then she is. When I discovered that Levene had written Doctor Who episodes, my interest was piqued even more and I couldn't wait to dive in, I had high expectations, although the way I thought the story was going to go was waaaayy wrong!
Smiler's Fair is truly an incredible read. It's an epic journey taking you across the world that has been painstakingly created with plenty of thought and detail. It's astonishing. I think sweeping tale, would be another way to describe it. We see many different parts of the world, but not all, there's plenty left unexplored, which to me, promises more books!
Smiler's Fair is kind of Game of Thrones-y, but easier to read, it's not such a slog to get through. I mean GOT is like hundreds of pages of text with lots of very small words that takes a while to read cos you kind of have to give yourself a break, then carry on. It's just how it's written, requiring all your concentration and being a bit of a challenge to tackle. Smiler's Fair, however, while being 404 pages, at this point, was easy to keep reading in one go because the chapters where smaller, the text was bigger and it was generally easier to read, especially as there weren't thousands of characters that you keep forgetting who they are!
Smiler's Fair also has more magic than Game of Thrones, and has Gods which are way cool, but it also has waaayy more awesome creatures. So like I said, Game of Thrones-y but easier to read and with tonnes more magic and creatures.
The world building was astounding, there was so much detail and care taken to weave a world that you can live in the entire time you're reading. Everything is pictured clearly, and the map included helps you figure out where everything belongs. We have different types of people, and tribes, each distinguishable and with their own Gods and customs. A lot of work has gone in to creating this world and it has really paid off. It's a sweeping world with the epicness of Lord of the Rings.
The characters where a mixed bag of surprises. As I said, I'd figured our five would become a group and set out to take the throne. Way wrong. Each of the characters where very well written with depth, care and dimensions that had them springing to life and becoming real to you. We really did have a cast of strong characters, with different lives, different things that had shaped them and made them who they are, and each dealt with a pain of their own.
As I said, they where surprising, I mean I figured Marvan was going to be an odd one, but he really did escape from a Criminal Minds episode. He was freaky. I'm also sure he'll be back again to cause more mayhem. Nethmi was the biggest surprise for me, I mean I don't know maybe I've been reviewing too much YA with the romance lately, I kinda assumed she'd be getting it on with Krish. I actually felt sorry for her when she killed Thilak and was all "oh poor girl, she didn't really have a choice though". Man I'm a poor judge of character, even fictional ones apparently! I really did not expect her to take the path she did, I was actually quite pleased she got what was coming to her! Eric, I love Eric, I feel for him so badly and I just want to hug him, he made me chuckle once or twice and I'm really intrigued to see where his story is going to go with his son!
Dae Hyo I was not expecting to like, but I felt so much empathy for him and when he finally got Krish as a brother, I may have sniffled once or twice because it was so heartrending to read that scene. But that just might be me. He's had a crappy life, and been treated like crap, but he lets Krish follow him and even helps him learn to fight, and is so loyal. Krish I also loved, I wasn't too sure about him at first but you can support his character and what he's setting out to do.
The writing is one of the things that reminded me of GOT but the magical elements and the Gods and the lore and everything made it that bit more interesting/engaging/easier to read. When I say it reminded me, it reminded me in the sense that it's very full on, there's no glossing over deaths, you get all the gory details, sometimes you kinda wish you didn't but it's all there. Nothings held back or prettied up for us.
The book was fast paced, with smooth flow and slick prose. There was no dragging bits. The narrative switched from our five characters, and then at one point to another character, and each switch in narration was smooth and carried on cleanly. You got to see what was going on in multiple locations, and some of our characters even crossed paths. I'm still trying to decide if Levene is going to be the "I will kill every character whether you love them or hate them muahaha" writer or not, but so far I can't argue with any of the character deaths!
The premise was so utterly unique. I loved the Smiler's Fair, the moving carnival that's different every time it pitches somewhere else and how it was like a little city. It was a great backdrop for a chunk of the action, although it was a shame about the ending! The aspect of the two Gods was intriguing, and I'm intrigued to see where it's going to go in the next book now that Krish is on his way to start his battle. It was interesting to watch this different characters, that you thought where one thing, make a total 180 and become someone else entirely throughout the course of the story, there was a lot of character development squeezed in!
The mythology and lore woven throughout the very complex plot was rich and so detailed, it's the kind I love and get over excited about! The main tale of the Sun and Moon Gods was well thought out and conveyed, and as I said I loved how each people had their own Lore. It was scattered throughout and added a certain something to the story to make it that bit more enchanting, and you find yourself wanting to know more about it all! While the plot is complex, it doesn't get confusing, there's never too much going on, and you can keep everything straight in your head while you follow the twists and turns of the story. None of which you could guess by the way! I was fully just along for the ride!
The main thing I loved was all the magic scattered throughout the books. The mages. The runes that only just started working. The "worm" men, who they are and such, their counterparts and what they're up to. Then there's Adofo. Not gonna like, I'd quite like my own Adofo. I loved the little touch about how he kind of grew with Krish and matured if you like. There's all these unknown creatures in the woods that are just itching to be fleshed out and examined in more detail in the next book! Not to mention the mysterious Hunter, who we caught a glimpse of.
By far my favourite of the creatures, is Rii. From what I'm picturing, she's a giant bat. I love how she is given a backstory, and I really feel for her too! I just enjoyed reading about her interactions with Eric and how she kind of starts to gruffly take care of him at the end. I need more Rii! I just loved her!
Smiler's Fair is a thrilling adventure, a web of rich mythology, action, battle, magic and mystery that's fast pace let's you speed through it, despairing when it ends! I would pitch it as being kind of Game of Thrones-y, but easier to read, with magic, less squabbling over a throne, and more imaginative creatures, with all the swooping/epic storytelling of Lord of The Rings. Smiler's Fair will enchant you and keep you engaged to the end, if not with the magic and adventure, then with the beautiful storytelling and attention to detail!
Bring on book two please Rebecca!