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Topic: Thoughts on Carol Berg's Rai-kirah Trilogy?

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Subject: Thoughts on Carol Berg's Rai-kirah Trilogy?
Date Posted: 9/22/2009 9:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I picked up Song of the Beast by Carol Berg some time ago on a whim. I read it in one sitting, but then almost immediately forgot about it. The characters didn't particularly enthrall me, there was nothing particularly interesting about the world, and the prose was adequate but nothing special. I decided I wouldn't bother with her in the future, as none of her other titles looked as appealing as this one, which was about dragons and music, two of my earliest loves in fantasy novels.

Then last night I read the novella "Unmasking," in the anthology Elemental Magic, which is set in the same world as Berg's most famous work, the Rai-kirah trilogy, which is composed of the novels Transformation, Revelation, and Restoration.

I absolutely loved the novella. The world still didn't thrill me, but I could see that it had promise, and Berg's characterization was superb. It was the shortest novella of the four in the collection and had the characters I will remember the longest. The main character of the novella, a trainee Searcher named Joelle, is real from the moment she begins her narration, and in the course of 80 pages has to face some very hard decisions with a great deal of courage and grace. The romance element (as the collection is a romantic fantasy collection centered around the elements) reminded me very much of the romance in Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown -- barely there in the text, but obvious if you read between the lines and so much more satisfying than a romance where everyone's feelings sprawl across the page at every turn. Even more impressive than the characterization of the narrator was the characterization of the ancillary characters: Berg managed to make each of them real and unique while at the same time being true to Joelle's perspective and never throwing in details about the other characters that Joelle either wouldn't know or wouldn't think about. That is a feat very few fantasy authors master -- the only one that comes to mind right now is Lois McMaster Bujold, another one of my absolute favorite authors.

So I am conflicted now. I very much want to read more in the Rai-kirah universe if it is at the same level as "Unmasking" is, but I don't want to bother if it's as forgettable as Song of the Beast. Have any of you read the trilogy, and if so, what did you think?

Date Posted: 9/23/2009 3:31 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,757
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i believe i've read all of Carol Berg's fiction novels now.

i enjoy her quite a bit as a detailed world-builder, and really connect and go through an emotional rollercoaster ride as the characters go through their good and bad times.

that said, i don't really remember Song of the Beast.  i'm looking at the description and it's just not triggering memories.

for the Ri-kirah trilogy, i remember liking the first one best, but it's been quite a while and that may be more because i didn't so much like what happened to the characters than because they weren't well done.  i recently took it off my keeper shelf because while it was worth reading i doubt i'll re-read it, and the library has it in case i do.  Unmasking was a lovely reminder of this world.

Carol Berg's Bridge of D'Arnath series and the Lighthouse duet are still on my keeper shelves.

really, i'd say get the first one and give it a shot.

Date Posted: 9/29/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2009
Posts: 5
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 I just read the Song of the Beast a few weeks ago and while I enjoyed it,  the Ri-kirah trilogy is by far my favorite so far.  I also enjoyed the Bridge of D'Arnath series.  As was mentioned, her charectarization is beautiful and her world building is incredibly thorough.   In Ri-kirah and Bridges I think the first books are the strongest. 

I'm looking forward to reading the Lighthouse Duet.

Date Posted: 10/3/2009 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2008
Posts: 187
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I really loved the first two books of the Ri-kirah trilogy and wasn't as impressed with the third.  It is funny that you mention "The Hero and the Crown" that is my all-time favorite book from when I was younger!

I finished reading the Lighthouse Duet a couple months ago.  I thought the first book was kind of a drag, but read the second because I already had it.  The second book was absolutely fabulous.  So, if you think the first book in the LIghthouse Duet starts out kind of slow (like the first 200 pages) it is worth sticking with it for the second book!


I never read Song of the Beast though....

Date Posted: 10/4/2009 9:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Well, I just finished Transformation and am so grateful I did! I could barely bring myself to come to the computer and write a review of it because I got the second book in a 2 for 1 deal and I wanted to start it immediately. Thanks so much for all your input!

Date Posted: 10/5/2009 2:59 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,757
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good, glad you liked it!