Isles of the Forsaken, by Carolyn Ives Gilman is another fine
publication from Chizine, which I have to say is becoming one of my
favorite publishing houses. There books never let my down and cease to
amaze me. I have read close to ten of their titles now, and have enjoyed
That being said, Isles of the Forsaken is a strong novel. I had never
heard of Gilman, but she is certainly a writer that can deliver a
complex plot, which in this case is set in a unique world of many
islands. Different races must live with each other after the Inning take
control and colonialize the last of the free isles. The Torna were
earlier victims of this colonialization and have forsaken much of their
own native culture in order to raise amount the ranks of the conquerors.
The Adaina are a spiritual people, closer to nature and mystic
traditions. Their way of life is at the brick of destruction. The
Lashnura are the grey people, the healers and allies to the Adaina.
Their healing takes on the perverse quality of self-mutilation for to
heal others they must slice into themselves.
Into the complex world step many people that could shift the balance and
allow the Adaina a chance to survive, as they have done for centuries,
or if things good wrong, they could become little better than serfs.
Harg has been away from the Adaina fighting as an officer in Inning
wars. He returns home to find an Inning presence bullying his people and
is introduced to Nathaway an Inning that feels Law solves all the
world's ills. A young and quite beautiful Lashnura woman, named Spaeth
finds herself abandoned by her mentor and soon is sucked into conflicts
that quickly head toward rebellion.
I cannot say much more without ruining the plot, which is something I
would hate to do with a book that takes such a detailed approach to the
heightening of drama. I will say that the book contains action as well
as clever plotting. Power is gained as much with alliances and
discussions behind the scenes as with sword points. The characters are
believable and tend to avoid falling into simple fantasy stereotypes.
The twists of the plot are hard to guess, which is always a good thing.
Downsides of this novel could include that the reader is thrust into
this world so quickly that the first twenty pages are so leave us
guessing at what is happening and trying to fill in the gaps ourselves.
Still, this can be better than slowing down the book to over explain
everything as well. I also might have liked to see more plotting from
the main characters mentioned above. Each one tended to be batted around
and acted upon by various figures, but they could have stepped up to
become more involved in the plotting instead of being its victim.
Iles of the Forsaken is a strong first book in what promises to be a
series. I will look forward to reading more from Gilman and intend to
follow this series. Gilman leaves the reader wishing they already had
the second book in their hands and anxious to see how Harg's gambit will