Shapechangers by Jennifer Roberson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is a re-read of the first book in a series I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I do not like this book. I'm not sure if this is Roberson's first book (and subject to the First Novel uneven-ness that can happen) or if I'm just reading it again with older eyes. After all, this book was first published in 1984. I've read many, MANY books since 1984 so I have more to compare it to. A lot of life has been lived between 1984 and now too, so a person's entire frame of reference can switch focus. It isn't so much when the book was written but the experience of the person reading it at that time. I was a tween (just barely) and in love with fantasy novels. I'm sure there was much I didn't get at the time, but I understood most of it and it fascinated me. Now, I focus less on the story and more on the words used to tell it; on characterization, and they both fall flat. Maybe, if this book were released today, it wouldn't be classified as an adult novel. Maybe the magic of it is at the YA level.
I hated the heroine. She was spoiled and stubborn and incredibly ill suited to heroine-ism. She wanted what she wanted and to hell with the very real consequences. The hero was marginally better, even though he was supposed to be older and wiser than her. Secondary characters (who star in Book 2) were better, but don't quite reach three dimensional status until The Song of Homana (book 2 in the series) The plot? Not as thin as the characters, but this is really a set up book. There is A LOT of world building to do, and if anything about this book is excellent, that is it.
Because, even though I don't have much good to say about this book, the fact is that it has been with me for over 20 yrs. Roberson created an entire world that has lived in the back of my mind; especially the language. I've always liked languages. It isn't to the point where I've translated Hamlet into Cheysuli, but a few words do stick out. Favorite characters from the series remain as well. The series is great, it just needed a better start.
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