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Jennifer Fallon – Eye of the LabyrinthA few (old) words on Eye of the Labyrinth, the 2nd book in the Second Sons Trilogy by Jennifer Fallon; a series I had a rather ambivalent relationship with at the time of review. This was a free review copy from the publisher... I don't think I'd have picked up the book/series otherwise.

Ok, let’s get the important part out of the way from the beginning. If you’ve read the first book, or my review thereof then be advised that this book is infinitely better than the first instalment, so much better that it’s nearly readable and enjoyable. Yes, that's faint praise. Jennifer Fallon still uses co-incidence as the main plot driver, and the ‘bad soap opera feeling’ of the first book is still here, but in contrast to ‘The Lion of Senet’ we’re getting a developing story, with the elements that made the first book nearly unbearable to read toned down a lot.

The book picks up with Morna Provin, Dirk’s (the main protagonist of the series) Mother, being arrested at the funeral of her former husband who protected her from the Lion of Senet. Now she is to have her sentence for treason (death, in case you were wondering) - which was put on hold per Wallin Provin’s request - fulfilled, and be burnt alive at the next Landfall festival.
Dirk, meanwhile, is still in Mil with the Pirates who hide the fugitives from the Senetian rule, trying to learn the secret of the next ‘Age of Shadows’ from Neris Veran, who figured it out in the first place, and went mad over it (and the drugs he used to drive himself on).
Finally, after some more of the usual incredible co-incidences that seem to happen all the time in this world, he decides to go to Omaxin and learn the secret that gives ultimate power on this world for himself, only accompanied by Tia Veran, Neris’ daughter, who doesn’t trust him one iota…

This is the 2nd book in the series. It provides no introduction or summary of the first book (these usually suck anyway), but I guess you can read it, understand it, and enjoy it (to some degree) without having read the first book. For real in-depth information and understanding of where and why things are as they are you will need to fight your way through ‘The Lion of Senet’ – good luck. It will make you appreciate this book better, but will also lower you opinion of the series…

On the book itself – the story is unrealistic, as Jennifer relies ways too much on unlikely coincidences to drive her plot. You know, the type where one makes a good story, two makes a standard 2.5h Hollywood movie, and 5 make a bad week in your average soap opera. 20 or so make a Jennifer Fallon book. No kidding. The characters are a bit more developed in this volume, but still very clichéd and 2-dimensional. The main difference is that Dirk now has snapped out of his passive ‘victim of circumstances’ mood, and has jumped into action as some kind of Artemis Fowl - style genius with a grand masterplan to dismantle all that’s bad and despisable. Oh, and the pacing is handled is so much better, too.

So, should you invest in this book (mine’s on amazon marketplace…hint, hint) or steer clear of it? Have a go if you like Fantasy with very little substance, and don’t mind artificial plot development. Everyone else would do better with investing into something better written with a bit more substance. Peruse the review list on the site for suggestions.

More Jennifer Fallon

Title: Eye of the Labyrinth
Series: Second Sons Trilogy
Series Number: 2
Author: Jennifer Fallon
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  Orbit
Publisher URL: http://www.orbitbooks.co.uk
Publication Date: November 2005
Review Date: April 14, 2006
ISBN: 184149352X
Price: £7.99
Pages: 526
Format: Paperback
Topic: Fantasy
Topic: Soap Opera

 

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