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This is the second book in the Age of Five trilogy, and although all referances to events happening in the previous volume are explained enough to understand what is going on, would recommend picking up Priestess of the White before reading this book.
The story opens following the retreat of the Pentadrian army following their disappointing defeat against the Circlians. One of the Thinkers (highly educated group with no magical abilities) realises that their route back through the mountains has been sabotaged. The leader of this group foolishly goes ahead and plummets to his death leaving the army without his guidance and more importantly the only map! Reivan thinks she has discovered a way out of this mess, but since she is the only female Thinker and generally disdained by the group no one pays attention as she finds a way out of this mess and comes to the attention of the current leader of the Pentadrians', the Voice of God Imenja. Reivan is rewarded beyond her dreams she is given the option to join the ranks as a Servant of Gods despite her lack of magical ability. However this angers some and can make her upcoming training rather unpleasant. Will Reivan be able to pass the test and complete her training overcoming her lack of ability, or is this just a futile journey losing her everything she has built up?
Happening at the same time we follow the journey of a rather confused Dreamweaver named Leiard, and his turbulent psyche, constantly arguing with a voice inside his head claiming to be the real owner of his body. What doesn't help is this alter ego has recruited help in the form of an immortal named Emerahl, The Hag. Will Emerahl be able to figure out which personality she should be helping, or will she give in and help her past lover Mirar claim this body whether it is his or not? Surely sacrificing a mere mortal's body to a greater will would be the correct thing to do?
Auraya is feeling somewhat guilty after putting into place a hostel where both Circlian priests and Dreamweavers can heal side by side with the sole aim of bettering the ability of the priests healing, thus eliminating the need for a heathen cult to continue to exist. Also to make matters worse a century of ingrained hostility is making the venture rather hazardous. Definitely not what the only flying White needs to be troubled with while her heart lies in a distant land with the mystical siyee relying on her help.
One thing I love about not only this book but also the whole series is how you follow the paths of very different people (even enemies) and ultimately see how every minor decision on each of their parts affect drastically the course the world takes. It's truly thrilling and interesting. I find the immortals (the Wilds) which are out of the control of the Gods much more interesting and unpredictable in their actions as after centuries of injustice and prejudice they are starting to get mad and seeking revenge on those that have hunted and suppressed them for all this time. Also the revelation of who the last wild is somewhat unexpected and gives a huge twist in the direction this trilogy is taking.
I find the writing style of Trudi Canavan fantastic (kind of obvious considering this is the fifth book of hers I have read) and love how it is not only set out but also the way in a single page you can see a character interacting verbally, telekinetically, arguing with one's self and thinking, along with the usual descriptive text. I feel it gives the whole story an extra depth. Also I enjoy the subject matter and the depiction of organised religion with the magical twist, how spiteful and vengeful the Gods are without offering the reasoning behind their judgement and how some will follow blindly and others question it (a moral dilemma as to which party is making the right choice).
Ironically through the wonders of Amazon market place you can pick up the hardback copy of this cheaper than the paperback (if you don't mind slumming it like me - in my opinion a books a book as long as the pages aren't dirty and creased a few creases down the spine don't impair the joys of reading as after all it will look like that or much worse after I've read it!) and you could be looking at paying between £3-£4 for this little number.
Although the architect of the White's victory, Auraya's first taste of war has left her sleep filled with nightmares. She walks in fields of blood and gore while the dead rise in accusation. You killed us. You. It seems Auraya will know no peace while these nightmares haunt her, but the only one she trusts to help has vanished. The Dreamweaver, Leiard, still struggling to come to terms with the ever more powerful memories of the long-dead Mirar, flees into the mountains with Emerahl, perhaps the last of the Wilds. Although not a Dreamweaver herself, Emerahl is powerfully gifted, and helps Leiard to make sense of his strange jumble of memories. What they discover will change his life forever. And far to the south, the Pentadrians lick their wounds and set about finding a new leader. Peace, it seems, must wait a while yet ...