The Lion of Senet
by Jennifer Fallon
First of all, I have to write that I really
enjoyed this series. Since all three volumes were published within months of each other, I
was able to obtain all of them after reading this the first volume. I was totally
engrossed in the story and could not wait to get to the conclusion.
First, the good. I really liked the idea behind the premise--a two-sun world in which one sun periodically sets for an extended period of time. And I like the interplay between science and religion in explaining this phenomena.
I also liked very much the storytelling aspect of Fallon's writing. She painted colorful, rich pictures of the events in the volumes.
Perhaps most of all, I liked the characterizations. Most figures in the book are a mixture of both good and bad. The title character of the first volume is the ruler ("Lion") of Senet. While a "bad guy" as the novel progresses, it is easy to understand why he acts as he does, and he has a certain nobility, albeit it brutal, at times, to his beliefs and actions. Another "baddie" is the young acrobat/acolyte Marquel. While she gets more ruthless as the story unfolds, her motivation for her actions seems reasonable given her upbringing and experiences. In fact as she is about to be unjustly punished for stealing a knife, our sympathy goes out to her.
The "good guys" are also not perfect or flawless, although the novel's hero, Dirk comes close. All the characters have flaws and make mistakes which makes things worse.
Normally, being a main character in a novel or series is a pretty good insurance policy that you will make it through all sorts of trials and tribulations to the end of the story. Not so here. Being a major character does not mean that you won't suffer a surprising and perhaps grisly fate.
Another great aspect is the fact that events in
the three volumes do not follow standard story construction. Usually, within the first
couple chapters of a book, the reader knows who will end up with whom (lovewise), what
will transpire, who will be elevated to what position, etc. Ms. Fallon breaks the mold and
takes off on her own vision. In this aspect, her yarn is much more believable.
Now, the bad. Despite the characters being engrossing, some of them are just not believable. Tia, in particular, holds an undying hatred for Dirk (which morphs into love, of course, and back to hate) which is unrelenting and unbelievable. Everyone else understands why Dirk did what he did and understands him, but not Tia. She is sure, beyond any normal logic, that Dirk is an agent of the Lion of Senet sent to work her people's downfall.
When Dirk has sex with Marquel after she gives him a powerful aphrodisiac, his best friend, the Lion's second son Kirsch, himself besotted with Marquel, blames him and becomes his enemy. This despite the fact that he had himself been subject of the same drug during religious ceremonies. Kirsch's unrelenting love of Marquel throughout the trilogy, despite Marquel's many actions against him, defy reality.
I am not so sure about the math behind the long periods of the second sun's sunset, but I will grant that as a given in order for the plot to work. But much of what is touted as proof of Dirk's great intelligence is mundane and proof of only his average intellect. And the "logic" used to explain why Marquel should watch the then married Kirsch during the second volume is simply lacking in any logic by any stretch of the imagination. Dirk's words for saving another character in the third novel are also unrealistic, especially as there would be a much more logical line of reasoning he could give.
I think this trilogy had the potential to be ranked as one of the best in the genre. But the flaws keep it down. Despite the flaws, though, this is an engrossing, fun read. I highly recommend it, and I look forward to the day when I forget enough about it to pick it up and enjoy it all over again.
For more reviews
or to buy The Lion of Senet from Amazon.com, click here.
For more reviews or to buy The Eye of the Labrynth (Volume 2) from Amazon.com, click here.
For more reviews or to buy The Lord of the Shadows (Volume 3) from Amazon.com, click here.