01/06/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Gollancz. 333 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-575-08323-3.
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk and www.jainefenn.com
There are always problems with getting a second novel out. With the first, which might not be so much a first but first in the sense of getting a sale, writing is practically done at a leisurely pace. Under contract to a publisher, there's more of a deadline and contract to complete on time. That's often when the real work begins and a stronger dependence on your initial skills.
'Consorts Of Heaven' does illustrate that author Jaine Fenn is a good wordsmith but this lacks a lot of the depth of her first novel, 'Principles Of Angels'. I was forever having to remind myself that this book was set in the same reality.
The planet this story is mostly set on a primitive practically pre-tech society scattered across the world with an emphasis on religion and superstition. The widow Kerin and her 'sky-touched' son, Damaru, take in an amnesic stranger and are convinced by the villagers to take the long journey to visit a distant city to see if he is worthy of joining the skymothers who really hail from the stars.
I have to confess the blurb helped a lot here. Taken at a personal level, a large chunk of this story comes over as a low-tech fantasy extended quest of avoiding prejudice and other threats on the trip until the last sixty pages at the city and beyond, which is obviously spoiler level. It is a vast contrast to how Fenn dealt with her first novel.
This isn't to say the novel isn't interesting but a little more work could have made the secondary characters a lot more distinctive and stand-out better than simply being names on the page. As it is, there is a lack of emotional depth so you care less when anyone is killed.
I commented last time that Jaine Fenn is a star in the making but she does need the room to flourish if she is to equal her first book.
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