5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Ione Kellerhals! February 15, 2014
By Kathie Goodwin
Verified PurchaseThis book is very well written. The author even captured my 13 year old son’s attention and that is hard to do. I enjoyed this story so much that I passed it around to my family. Looking to read more by this author.
4.0 out of 5 stars A contemporary answer to high fantasy March 21, 2014
“The Torc of Anubis” is, at its core, an urban fantasy story. The stakes are high, the feats are incredible, the fights dramatic, and the protagonists larger than life. What sets it apart from other stories in its genre, though, is the incredible amount of thought put into this world and its inhabitants.
Ione Kellerhals clearly did her anthropology and theology homework. Part of the essential backdrop of the epic is that the world religions were all derived from a single story based on the Norse Ragnarok. The deities engaged in this conflict and their representatives on earth (of which our protagonist is one for an analogue to the Sumerian Inanna) are all supernatural beings whose separation from other realms is out of necessity to keep the worlds from being destroyed. Part of our heroine’s task is to keep the barriers between these worlds intact to prevent unnecessary chaos from plaguing the earth.
Speaking of our protagonist, Liadan Aswarde is quite the character. The story is told in first person, so we become very familiar with her inner voice very quickly. Being an avatar to a goddess, she is functionally more of a conglomeration of memories and identities than a single person, but she nevertheless appeals to the reader as an individual with her droll sense of humor and blunt way of approaching problems. She is also a single mother, which I found to be an interesting and welcome change from what seems to be a genre dominated by young male protagonists. The rest of the cast that supports her is full of characters that are each interesting in their own right, and none of them are forgettable. At times some of the relationships could be distracting, and sometimes it felt like the only thing preventing a love triangle from overtaking the story completely is the fact that Liadan is, perhaps against her very nature, so focused on and consumed by her role in a much larger cosmic conflict that she doesn’t let herself get distracted.
The magical system seems fairly solid: a lot of Liadan’s work is done through channeling the divine energy of her goddess, a preternatural ability to sense trouble, and communicating with nature spirits. She engages some entities in physical combat, and her supporting cast of magical characters assist her in similar ways. Magic and magical beings are portrayed as finicky and difficult to control without significant practice, and sometimes come at a cost to the user. The disadvantage of going into such detail with magical systems and the mechanics of the world, though, is that some things might not always get an explanation, or the explanation isn’t totally airtight. These moments seemed like they were few and far between, and never took me out of the tale for very long.
This novel plays enough of the fantasy tropes absolutely straight to keep it well within the boundaries of the genre, but it’s not afraid to take risks, for which I give this author a lot of credit. Rather than glossing over some details, the novel is very open about sometimes graphic violence and sexuality, and is not afraid to seriously hurt characters that we come to love. None of these developments ever feel like cheap ploys for attention or like they’re being played for shock value: they’re simply a brutally honest portrayal of concepts that we are familiar with, and that even appear in fantasy genres, but before now weren’t examined as closely.
To sum things up, it’s a variation on a familiar theme, but it throws enough in there to shake things up and keep you from calling the ending. They say that the lead character of a series should be someone you’d feel comfortable taking a two-week long road trip with and still be willing to get back in the car and do it again, and I got that feeling from Liadan. The ending raises a lot of questions, and I am very, very willing to stick around to see them get answered.