Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson
Publication date: December 14th 2015
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
I am very happy to share today my positive review of Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson. I was overall impressed with this indie debut, and I recommend this book to anyone, even those who do not usually read Fantasy. And for those who want to know more about this new Fantasy author, I have also interviewed Rogerson; so if you want to check the interview, please click here.
Visions of Zarua is another one of those Fantasy books that can please any reader, even those that are not familiar with the genre. The author withholds essential information as the plot progresses placing the reader at the same level of knowledge of the main characters. This results in a great deal of suspense throughout the narrative. Rogerson had reached the perfect balance with this, leaving the reader with enough information about the world and its mechanics. I didn’t feel confused at any point; simply curious, very curious: “What happened? Who can I trust? I want to know more.”
Fantasy wise, we have the right amount of it to make it feel epic; but not an overwhelming amount that could drive non-Fantasy readers away. The pace is slow, yes, but I didn’t see it as a bad thing; it adds to the suspense.
Rogerson makes use of active setting, meaning all her descriptions are part of the action and no useless information is included – so despite the slow pace, this book is very easy to read.
Due to the slow pace of the narrative and the smart use of limited POV, the characters grow easily on us. There’s the smart use of active setting as I have mentioned above which applies to characters as well. Even though Rogerson didn’t write any useless and lengthy descriptions, I could still imagine the characters in my head.
The way the characters are introduced to us is brilliant. Every time I read Epic Fantasy, I usually feel a bit lost in the beginning, because there are so many characters with so many different names, and they are all introduced in the same scene. Well, none of that here. The characters are introduced to us when they are relevant, and gradually. We are given enough time with each character to get to know them individually, and the author knows exactly on who to focus the attention in each scene.
Apart from that, I thought the main characters were likeable, and easy to relate to: their fears, their doubts.
The narrative uses limited multi-POV, each POV blending into the next one seamlessly. At the same time, this multi-POV alternates with a separate POV, a sort of ‘diaries’ that takes us to a different character’s story taking place 350 years ago. I have to admit that I was not a fan of this approach in the beginning. It contributed to a slower pace, and it cut the action at some points. On the other hand, I can see why these bits were an important part of the narrative.
If we analyze each POV individually, they are impressively well done – quality writing and quality editing, I couldn’t spot any incoherences or obvious mistakes. The author uses a mixture of shallow and deeper POV, which works insanely well because the shallow bits give that old-school tone to the narrative without jeopardizing the readers’s attachment to the characters. Very well written, and suited to the Fantasy genre.
You can enter the book giveaway via Goodreads here. The deadline is 14th February 2016.