source for free and $1 books


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of SOUTHERN FIRE by Juliet E. McKenna (see her website)

    TOR, July 2005

    Barbarians, led by magicians, invade the southern islands in the archipelago, and Darish Khenda, leader of the next group of islands up, knows his turn will be next. But what can he do against magic? Magic has been banned from the archipelago for centuries--and defenses against it almost unknown. Only by abandoning his kingdom, pretending to be dead, and seeking some magical help can he hope to prevail. But in the archipelago, any association with magic is ruled to damn the victim as well as the magician. What future can he hope for, even if he is successful.

    Author Juliet E. McKenna creates an intriguing universe with an intricate system of divination (not considered magic), inheritance, and warfare. Her story weaves togther the lives of Khenda with Dev, a wizard from the far north, intrigued by tales of magic from the south.

    For me, McKenna's habit of over-explaining the characters' thoughts by drawn out, italicized, internal monologue was sadly disruptive. SOUTHERN FIRE has plenty of potential, but I recommend simply skipping all of the italics. I also found that Khenda didn't really make the hard decisions you'd expect of a protagonist--instead, they were made for him, by Shek Kul, by Dev, and especially by Janne. Perhaps this weakness will be addressed as McKenna continues her series, but I found it hard to care too much about Khenda. Despite convincing himself he was making sacrifices, he seemed to me to be looking for ways to cheat his way out of paying the cost.

    SOUTHERN FIRE shows a lot of promise. It will be intriguing to see if McKenna can address her weaknesses and propell this series to the levels that the fascinating world-building deserves.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 12/01/05

    Ready to buy it? Click the button:

    Want to learn more?
    Click this link and see more reviews, similar books, and other Amazon information on SOUTHERN FIRE from

    Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?
    Click this link for SOUTHERN FIRE from Barnes and

    Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.