The draw to this book is the world she creates, with the spirits controlled by gifted musicians. This world is intriguing and expertly drawn, and almost makes you want to buy the sequel.
But the problems in the story are fairly simple; the charecters rather flat. Everyone is a good guy, a nice person, except for a few sideline charecters - a village yokel, a ambitious soldier, and a bizzare sadistic aunt, who takes the fall for being a bad guy. Everyone else (all the main charecters) are accepting, wise, kind, loving, ect. The crisis in the story is wrapped up in by the god in the machine, as it were, the sub problems are all wrapped up nicely and neatly. As I said, it all falls rather flat.
There is a disturbing mention of incest with one of our main charecters, mentioned in an aside as if it weren't of notice; and almost all the charecters are bi-sexual, which was a bit bizarre. In fact, the whole book seems to be some propaganda for ACCEPTANCE and TOLERANCE. "Accept me as I am", screams at you like a elementary school poster - so much so that you think the author doubted our intelligence and capacity to get the message.
But the world itself kept itself in my memory for eight years, so much so I had to seek it out to read it again. Worth the read, if you're not too picky about well developed plots and 3D charecters, and as long as you can handle the moral ambiguities in the text.
I enjoyed this book, it was a fast read and the characters were good and the book had a plot.
Unlike many fantasy books, this book starts in the middle, rather than at the beginning. This helped move the book along fairly well. While flashbacks, for me, normally seem to disturb the flow of time, the flashbacks happened at appropriate times and actually had to do with the events taking place in the book.
While in many books a character is either kind or angry or some other stereotype, I found the characters in this book to be fairly well-rounded. Their outbursts of anger or sadness didn't come across as out-of-character; I'd say they were actually very human. For once, I felt the author actually considered that even 'bad guys' have ulterior motives that aren't just for the love of evil and even past events in their lives that effect them in the present.
The elemental magic was incredibly tame (for the most part) in comparison to most fantasy books that involve elemental magic. Although the bards can control the elements through contacted the spirits (kigh), the spirits also have minds of their own.
The story itself is filled with emotions, betrayal, political intrigue, and all manner of great things. I really enjoyed this.
Very good book! Her writing and plot reminded me a little of Anne McCaffrey.
Great characters, great worldbuilding. Best of the "4 Quarters" books.
A novel of Tanya Huff's magical 'Quarters' series.