CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 5. . . .October 1, 2010
Cinkarion: The Heart of Fire. (The Karionin Chronicles, Book Two).
J. A. Cullum.
Calgary, AB: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2010.
333 pp., pbk., $19.95.
Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.
Morrien looked around for the source of the voice and saw a burly sailor in scarlet and green, a captain's insignia on his hat. His companion, more soberly clad in brown, wore matching insignia. The second man said, "You hear something specific, Halev?"
Halev frowned. "Dekese has ambitions. Wants Cassinga right off the map so there won't be any human nation left in Cibata." He shook his head. "Nemali's just not a safe place, right across the river from tiger folk."
Morrien dodged through a gap in the stream of carts. She had covered almost the full length of the harbour and Arroth was not in port. She cursed. Three months, and still no news from her family.
Halev was right. Nemali was a ripe fruit waiting to be picked. The merchants had pled for more troops for years, since the region north-west of the Mocuba River had fallen to Senanga. But Njombe Isiro, the Ahar of Cassinga, was too busy with the pleasures of his court to heed them. Even when taxes were raised, Nemali gained only three dozen soldiers, though the increase should have paid for ten times that number.
Cinkarion is the second volume in a fantasy/adventure series, "The Karionin Chronicles." The premise is that the world of Tamar is home to nine different races of humans and near-humans. The land is on the brink of total war. There are living crystals called the Karionin that tune themselves to certain young wizards.
This story begins with the war between shape-shifting tiger-folk, the Senanga, and the humans. The were-folk have launched their attacks against the human inhabitants of the land of Cassinga. One of the problems appears to be that the human nations have difficulty in uniting against the common enemy. The humans are aided by their wizards, but there are wizards on both sides of the conflict.
The tale is told from several different points of view, human and Senangan, and covers a span of 49 years. The Machiavellian politics of the various courts play a part, as well as the in-fighting among the various wizardly factions. Military strategy enters the story as the reader follows those who wish to take a more radical approach vs those who seem stuck in the past. The setting involves considerable use of magic, plus sailing ships, and both medieval and gun powdered weapons. On the Senangan side, there are those in favour of total war, while there are also those who would like to see the nine races reconciled. On the human side, we have those searching for worthy children to recruit as apprentice wizards. The story does go into details of the lives of a few of the characters, such as Nathan, the young apprentice who becomes a powerful wizard in Cassinga, and Saranith, the young Sarangan woman who blinds herself with a hot poker to release her own powers, subsequently becoming a feared naval commander and pirate.
As I have not read the first book in the series, I feel at a bit of a disadvantage in that there is an almost overwhelming cast of characters and locations to keep track of. This book should appeal to the fantasy reader who enjoys sweeping and complicated plots, battles, rescues, and other events spurred on by the practitioners of magic.
Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.
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