Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weaving Words by Kim Knox

TITLE: Weaving Words
AUTHOR: Kim Knox
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 20k)
GENRE: Fantasy romance
COST: $3.50

Kaede is a witch, bound to the House of Sang. If he ever displeases Lord Tarou, his life will be forfeit, just by the uttering of Seven Words. He has no choice, really, when Tarou commands he resurrect the Lady Annaliese, but when he realizes the soul he puts back into her body isn’t actually hers, he knows his time is numbered. For her part, one moment Vara was getting eaten by wolves, the next she was waking up on an altar in a dark cavern. Her survival – as well as that of the witch who fascinates her – depends on convincing Tarou she is actually his wife…

I passed by this the first time it came out, but after reading Knox’s Lost Gods, I went to her backlist and picked out a few more to read. The first story I read after didn’t quite live up to the potential, but this, an older, shorter novella, ends up rating somewhere in between. I’ve learned one thing about this author, however. Explanations are not her forte.

Kaede is not your typical hero. In status terms, he’s like an omega, the bottom of the heap, enslaved without any recourse of escape lest he wish to die. At the story’s start, he comes across as quite frightened and skittish, though the circumstances certainly dictate and explain his behavior. He is aware from the start of the mistake he has made, and while he’s terrified of what might happen, he finds the strength to do everything he can to save his hide.

Vara was a warrior from the north before getting sucked into this Lady’s body, and is completely unaccustomed to being so docile or subservient. Her attraction to Kaede is immediate, though it’s unclear for the longest time whether that’s due to the magic or something else. She’s very spunky, with a much more modern, liberated attitude than Kaede or anyone else connected to the House, and it makes a good contrast with the more staid, mystical environment. My one problem with Vara is that she is never really given opportunity to exhibit the strengths she had in her previous incarnation. Much of the story’s advancement comes from Kaede or elsewhere. I desperately wanted to see more of her in action.

This story is an example of a story I liked more than the sum of its parts. Each taken on their own, they certainly scored above average, but when I consider it as a whole, I find myself more excited than with any specific aspect. That’s because it seemed to present such a less traveled road. Its magical aspects happen through the necromantic powers of an omega male, and the author doesn’t shy away from certain details, like saying that he can cast seeing spells using powdered eyeballs. It lends a slight gruesome quality to the narrative, but at the same time, completely fitting and engrossing. I spent so much of the story, on the edge of my seat, waiting for more. I did get some, enough to make this a satisfying read, but it’s become obvious to me over the past three stories I’ve read by this author that she does not excel in providing explanations or clarifying chains of events for the reader to best understand what’s going on. This one suffers from that flaw, just as the others did, and it’s this sense of incompletion that holds it back from being something truly astounding. The last couple chapters seem unnecessarily convoluted, and ultimately fail to adequately explain everything that has occurred. There are more questions left unanswered than there are resolved, and frankly, begs for a longer story to come afterward.

The issue then becomes, is it worth it to continue reading this author, knowing I’m not likely to get the explanations I invariably always crave when the story is done? I think so, yes. The set-up and potential of this novella was provocative and intriguing, and I don’t regret reading it for a moment. The worlds the author creates always suck me in. As long as I know what to expect on the other side, I have no qualms following her into more.


7/10 – Fast-paced and fascinating, I just wanted more explanation


7/10 – Tremendous potential that doesn’t get fully realized


7/10 – I really liked her, but felt for as strong as she was purported to be, she didn’t get to do much

Entertainment value

8/10 – Intriguing and different, though it could have been absolutely astounding with better explanation/world-building

World building

7/10 – Points for doing something unusual and provocative, but there isn’t enough depth for whys and hows to make this truly spectacular



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