Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine

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Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: In this fast-paced fantasy, Tali the runaway slave and Rix the nobleman are natural enemies. But the only way to beat the odds and save themselves is (you guessed it) by working together... and there are days when even defeating phantoms, shape-shifters and savage supernatural jackals is easier than that. Great stuff!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1841498287

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This is a fantasy novel that's a lot easier (and more rewarding) to read than it is to explain, but I'll do my best.

Tali is a slave born of slaves, forced to live and work underground by the brutal Cythonians who, in turn, have also been forced into a subterranean lifestyle. The land above them is Hightspall, rightly theirs but taken over generations ago. Hightspall's occupiers are led by a group of noble houses, which brings us to Rix, the heir to his alcoholic father, the Lord Ricinius. They both live under the thumb of his overbearing mother, Lady Ricinius, but then so do many others.

Tali has a powerful gift and doesn't know what it is, just that it's punishable by death in Cythonia, so, having witnessed her mother being butchered alive for hers, she knows she must escape. Meanwhile Rix is oblivious to the turmoil ahead but has some awful nightmares he can only share with his friend, Tobryn. The turmoil ahead? The Cythonians want their land back and have been preparing for war for a thousand years... that's a thousand years longer than those in Hightspall. Oh and on top of this there's a wizardly evil once-dead megalomaniac, savage shape-shifting monsters, magically written books, the misguided, misunderstood Tinyhead (that's my opinion anyway), edge-of-the-seat sword fights and, of course, Wil the mad blind scribe who wanders in and out, almost like a straight version of the soothsayer in Up Pompeii. Also Tobryn has a secret past; he feels responsible for the fall of his own noble house years before but why?

Ian Irvine is an Australian marine scientist who seems to have found time to write 27 novels on the side. Vengeance is the first book of his second fantasy trilogy and seems to have everything. There's humour (for example the way in which Rix manages to bring down his first caitsthe), some great action set pieces and so it goes on. However, as much as this novel is entertaining, it's also a product of its time in the same way that Lord of the Rings held warnings about the coming of World War II. Ian Irvine's 'tainted realm' is suffering from increased natural disasters (admiration has to go to anyone who names a range of volcanic mountains 'The Vomits') and climate change. It also asks questions that resonate down to our factual 21st century: In war who are the goodies? What happens when a fact that defined a war as righteous is shown to be unreliable? What is the difference between propaganda and truth? Indeed, what is truth?

The characters may be stock fantasy casting, but they're good stock fantasy casting. Rix and Tobryn are both callow youths labouring under respective dark secrets but both develop and mature as the story develops. Tali is a survivor – gritty, petite, haunted by her mother's death and driven to avenge the murderers and discover more about her gift. The baddies are just plain bad, but some come with back stories in-filled allowing us insight into their reasoning, as warped as it may be.

This is a hefty tome, but, apart from wanting to hit Tali around the face with a wet kipper at one stage (no spoilers, but you know how to contact me if you want to know when), I didn't begrudge a single syllable of it. Despite its size, this book will hold you. In fact it comes with a warning: this isn't the sort of book you'd pick up 'for a minute'. This is the sort of book you'd pick up if you were prepared to be late for your next appointment.

I would like to thank the publisher for giving Bookbag a copy of this book for review.

If you've enjoyed this book and enjoy your fantasy novels in series, perhaps you'd like to try Touch of Power: Avry of Kazan Book 1 by Maria V Snyder or Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan.

Buy Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine at Amazon.com.


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