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Votive

By: Karen Brooks

After losing everything Tallow has entered into an agreement with the Maleovellis, she gets them what they want and they will give her what she wants. In order for this to happen though Tallow must first throw off the disguise she lived in for years and embrace her femininity. She must learn – language, music, current affairs, behaviours, plants, poisons and how to use her natural wiles, for Tallow is to become Tarlo, courtesan and toast of Serenissian society.

She must learn quickly, for all La Serenissima’s beauty, it is a city rules by corrupt aristocrats, where everything has a price and appearances can be deceiving. While a high priced courtesan like Tarlo appears free, only she truly knows the price she is paying as she plays her part.There are the many machinations that Tarlo is aware of or suspects but there are others she is totally unaware of. Queen Zaralina of Farrowfare is desperate to find Tarlo and has several things in play to this end. Then there are the Bond Riders who betrayed her yet still believe they have a secret she will not be able to resist. Tarlo may survive her change from candlemaker to courtesan but will she survive to see what she longs for come to pass.

This is the sequel to Tallow, a book I will admit to struggling to get through, so I did open this with a little trepidation. As it turned out I liked this one quite a bit more. The character of Tallow/Tarlo is one with a great character arc, one of complete opposites and this makes her fascinating. La Serenissima is an incredibly detailed world filled with vivid descriptions of people and places. For all it’s grand scale it is Tarlo’s story that interested me the most, and when we switch to other characters I found it a little frustrating. To be honest though, it would be impossible to tell Tarlo’s story, one that encompasses such a grand scale, without using other perspectives to fill in the necessary information.

Brooks has created an intriguing world in the midst of pivotal events and if you like your fantasy epic in its scale and complex in it’s events then this is a book I am sure you will enjoy sinking your teeth into.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 1 June 2011

Format: Paperback 400 pages

Categories: Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781864719437

Purchase: use logo on side of page to go to Booktopia

Tallow

By: Karen Brooks

La Serenissima is a canal-laced city that borders the mystical place called the Limen, home to the Bond Riders. It is on this border that Pillar, a humble candle-maker rescues a child whom he decides to raise as his apprentice. It is years before the child’s strange talents manifest and when they do even the art of candle-making is transformed from something ordinary and everyday into something far more dangerous. This apprentice is more than just a rescued orphan and as the ancient magic in Tallow begins to awaken, others begin to take notice. When this happens Tallow’s simple and ofttimes cruel life will never be the same again.

There are people interested in Tallow who stick to the shadows, including a vengeful aristocrat, an exotic queen whose plotting goes deep and the lethal creatures known as the Morte Whisperers. Then there are the Bond Riders, responsible for Tallow ending up in Pillar’s hands, but just what part do they play in all of this?

This is a fantasy on a grand scale, complete with many strands that as a reader I struggled at times to pull together, which was a little disappointing as I had really wanted to read this book. There isn’t any one thing I could point to and say it was the reason for my reaction. It is very descriptive in a way that makes it easy to visualise Tallow’s spartan and harsh existence, as well as breathing life to the canal-laced city in which Tallow resides. I quite enjoyed the Italian base (language and structure) of this society. It may be a simple case of too many players being involved.

If you like your stories grand in scope and complex then this will be worth a look. I am hoping things will become a little clearer in the sequel. Sometimes writing styles really work for an individual reader or they don’t, for me this didn’t.

Publisher: Woolshed Press

Published: 01 October 2009

Format: Paperback 416 pages

Categories: Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781741664355

Purchase: here or use the logo to link to Booktopia

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