The Limbreth Gate by Megan Lindholm

  1. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    This is an odd book.

    I read it without reading the first two books in the series, or anything else by the author under her Megan Lindholm name. I knew of her talent as Robin Hobb of course, and that the switch of pen names was partially driven by a decision to relaunch her career with a more mainstream angle.

    Well, now I understand that a little better.

    The Limbreth Gate tells the tale of Kip, a gypsy/hero whose enemies trick her into a different world as punishment for the events of the previous books. This world is one dominated by an alien power, one where people lead a life of simplicity, peacefulness, and utter respect to other creatures. They hate the sun and will eat no meat - and just by being there, Kip starts to become one of them. And on the other side of the gate, the story follows her would-be rescuers and two people of the world beyond the gate, forced through to maintain balance.

    The adjustment to new circumstances of Kip, and those forced beyond the Limbreth Gate, makes up the meat of the book. This is a story of philosophical enlightenment and traveling. There's maybe only one fight. The magic is powerful and pervasive, but a far cry from the wizards' spells and and learning that we are used to. We don't meddle in the affairs of the mighty, or see the whole continent, or any of that. In short, we do virtually none of the things we're used to doing in fantasy.

    It's quite refreshing and, personally, its a shame that the career took off as Hobb rather than Lindholm because I prefer her ideas here. However, her writing isn't yet as refined here. The prose has a pleasingly poetic touch but less would have been more; it lacks the directness of Hobb's writing. More distractingly, the plot is uneven, meandering along over the same point repeatedly before suddenly accelerating over what I thought would be important ground. I read this book in a very stop-start way, partly due to life, but mainly due to the book.

    The characterisation - often held up as *the* Hobb strength - is good. Some people says it doesn't compare but I'm happy with it. The complaint made by some who've read the whole series that Kip is annoyingly different isn't one I can comment on all that much, but I can believe it. All I can really say is caveat emptor if considering starting the series based on this review.

    And I would like people to read these books based on this review. There's some flaws here in terms of the prose, and the quirks mean this isn't for everyone*, but most of the book is an enjoyable read. Those looking for an adventure fantasy that puts the emphasis more on fantasy and less on blood and guts, but don't want the fairy tale style of Gaiman, might well find what they're looking for here. I'm not sure I'm that person myself, but I'd like that person to find these books if they haven't.


    *But then what is?


    p.s. Thanks to The Judge for vanishing the incomplete review. When there was half a review, she asked for my concluding thoughts, and used the word 'admire'. That word stuck with me because in a lot of ways, admire is the best word for my thoughts about this book. I did enjoy it, I do like it, but I admire it more than either. It is a book that I am glad to have read and will remember for a good long time, but I won't be rushing to re-read it - I think admiration covers that.
     
    Brian G Turner and The Judge like this.
  2. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    I find her writing as Megan refreshing and reminds me of something that fantasy has steadily lost over the years; the sense of an adventure as opposed to a grand epic. Even short stories today often aim for that epic sweeping arc where we deal with kings, queens, nations and the fate of whole races.

    I think Limbreth Gate is a better read having read the preceding books as it sets the scene for the characters more so and helps establish events, but its nice to know that it stands on its own well.
     
  3. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    Most books work better for reading the preceding ones! Still, they only had this in the second hand store, and I was curious to read her as Lindholm, so I went for it. Personally, I like to judge authors by reading books late on in a series first and reading the first. It might be a cruel slightly sadistic thing, but if an author can drop a bunch of 3rd book stuff on you without confusing you or needing to resort to really crude info dumps, and if they can then enthrall you when you read the 1st book with spoilers, then they have real talent.

    And I completely agree about the adventure thing. Hopefully the tide changes there sometime.
     
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