Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Book Review: The Poisoned Crown

The Poisoned Crown
The Sangreal Trilogy, Book 3

by Amanda Hemingway

Nathan has visited other universes in his dreams. He has a unique ability to open a portal through the multiverse in his mind while he sleeps, and he has used that ability to recover two of the three Grail relics needed to save a dying universe: the Cup and the Sword. Only the Crown remains.

This time, Nathan's dreams take him to a world covered entirely in water: Widewater. He discovers that the crown is on Widewater in the possession of the goddess Nefanu, a powerful water elemental who hates all air breathers. As he tries to recover the crown, Nathan is drawn into a growing conflict between the merpeople, who follow Nefanu, and the last remaining air breathers in Widewater.

But there is more at stake than the dying world of Eos or the war on Widewater. Uncle Bartlemy, who has lived for 1500 years but prefers cooking to using his Gift, senses that things are changing and that the Ultimate Laws which bind the universe are breaking down. The spirits are predicting that the hour of doom is near, and Bartlemy and his protege, Nathan's friend Hazel, who also has the Gift, try to discover what's happening and how Nathan fits into it. As events draw towards a conclusion set in motion millennia earlier, Nathan seeks to discover his past and his future. Just what is the Grandir's plan, and what will be the consequences?

Like the first two books in the series, The Poisoned Crown is a beautifully written, exciting story that blends science with fantasy and ancient myth with modern culture. When Nathan is seeking information on a monster called Leviathan, for example, his mother suggests that he either ask Uncle Bartlemy or use Google; Nathan decides to try both and gets different information from each.

The descriptions are vivid, from the beautiful but harsh undersea world of Widewater to the foreboding empty corridors on Eos. Amanda Hemingway also excels at creating fascinating characters, from the implacable Uncle Bartlemy to the mysterious Grandir to the various inhabitants of Widewater. There are no throwaway characters here; even minor characters are well thought out and hint at unseen depths.

The Poisoned Crown is probably not a book for the young or the sensitive. It's a fairly dark book, with a theme of blood sacrifice running throughout.

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