Book Cover
Title Sword of Fire and Sea
Author Erin Hoffman
Cover Art Dehong He
Publisher Pyr - 2011
First Printing Pyr - 2011
Book Cover
Title Lance of Earth and Sky
Author Erin Hoffman
Cover Art Dehong He
Publisher Pyr - 2012
First Printing Pyr - 2012
Category Fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Captain Vidarian Rulorat, Priestess Ariadel Windhammer, Thalnarra, Altair, Queen Roana (Ruby), Rai, Isri
Main Elements Goddesses, gryphons, wizards
Website ---

Click to read the summarySword of Fire and Sea

Click to read the summaryLance of Earth and Sky

Magic, goddesses, and most importantly gryphons, an impressivly powerful creature that so rarely graces the pages of modern novels, the dragon so often hoarding that space for himself.

Hoffman creates a fascinating world, with a complex magical system and fascinating creatures, unfortunately she doesn't use them to their fullest. For example, when Vidarian first sees a gryphon, within the first few chapters of the book, he faints. Now gryphons were meant to be legendary, mythical, and well, they aren't supposed to exist. So it was a reasonable response for a character in that world when faced with a creature of dreams. However, the reader, knowing this was a fantasy novel, was unimpressed. *We* didn't know that this was such a major thing, and so Vidarian seemed ridiculous passed out on the ground. There was simply no build up to that climax, and as such, it wasn't a climax at all.

And again, when Vidarian was with the gryphons, we get this line -

"He listened avidly to their adventures and lair life, sometimes understanding little about the details but gaining volumes of new regard for gryphon culture."
That was nice for him, but I would have liked to learn something about gryphon culture too! While pages and pages of exposition would have been boring, that teasing line was just frustrating, we should learn with the character.

As I was reading it, I was trying to place the writing style. I found the dialog a little stiff, and the writing almost overfully full of adjectives and adverbs. Events would happen at a lightning pace with no pause between them. And then I read the Author's Note and it clicked. I'd RP'ed a bit in various forums and the feel of her novel is a lot like that. Not the effect you get when two or more authors are involved, it was just the style of writing one uses.

Now this review probably comes off sounding not all that great. But underneath the faults lies a great potential, a very interesting world. The action may be a bit too rapid fire but you don't get bored waiting for things to unfold. And there are gryphons, and they are major characters, and though you might not learn as much about them as you might like, you do pick up interesting tidbits as you go along. By the end, I truly wanted to know more about what was going to happen to Vidarian (I kind of liked him though I felt absolutely nothing for just about everyone else).

...And I just have to ask..."Correctamundo"? Great and powerful goddess, and given the dialog throughout was somewhat stiff and formal, and we get lines like "See you later alligator" coming out of her mouth? Why is she using modern North American slang?? It was so disconcerting!

So it was with a little trepidation that I started the second book. I wanted to find out what was to happen to Vidarian, but didn't want to slog through the choppy writing. But I was pleasantly surprised! This book was much improved. The action flowed more smoothly from one scene to the next without sacrificing the non-stop action. The dialog was less stiff. We're really starting to learn more about the world itself, it's history, it's culture and how magic works. And the gryphons continued to be front and center, with new and interesting creatures appearing (shapeshifters, automatons, and more). A few things still required me to suspend my disbelief, mainly how quickly everyone adapted to to increase in magic (can an entire skyship armada be put together in a matter of weeks or even months when nobody had flown a ship in centuries? How did they know how? Also Vidarian learns to do things some say are impossible in a matter of minutes...) There were a few new characters added but sorely underused so wasn't sure why they were there in the first place (e.g. Calphille). But at this point not only would I not be reluctant to try the third book, I would in fact be looking forward to it. Hopefully the same artist will provide the cover art because it's simply amazing.

Posted: May 2012


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