'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Review: Nora Roberts - 'Morrigan's Cross

Morrigan's Cross - Nora Roberts


Number-one New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts delivers an extraordinary new trilogy--an epic tale that breaks down the boundaries between reality and the otherworldly, while forging together the passions of the men and women caught in a battle for the fate of humanity ...

In the last days of high summer, with lightning striking blue in a black sky, the sorcerer stood on a high cliff overlooking the raging sea . . .

Belting out his grief into the storm, Hoyt Mac Cionaoith rails against the evil that has torn his twin brother from their family's embrace. Her name is Lilith. Existing for over a thousand years, she has lured countless men to an immortal doom with her soul-stealing kiss. But now, this woman known as vampire will stop at nothing until she rules this world--and those beyond it.. .

Hoyt is no match for the dark siren. But his powers come from the goddess Morrigan, and it is through her that he will get his chance at vengeance. At Morrigan's charge, he must gather five others to form a ring of power strong enough to overcome Lilith. A circle of six: himself, the witch, the warrior, the scholar, the one of many forms and the one he's lost. And it is in this circle, hundreds of years in the future, where Hoyt will learn how strong his spirit--and his heart--have become . . .

My Review: 4/5*

If ever there was a book filled with paranormal clich├ęs this is it, but I loved it! This was a book which was set to me to read as part of a Goodreads reading challenge by another member, and it isn’t a book which I would have picked up off the shelf myself. Admittedly, when I first started reading the book it took me awhile to get going with it. It’s simply written (not necessarily a bad thing) with some fairly predictable characters. Usually this is something which completely puts me off new series – I need something different with a bit of a kick to it! I am pretty certain though, despite the 4 star rating, that if it wasn’t for the characters of Glenna and Blair I may have despaired and given up with it.

Glenna is an all-powerful witch – although not as powerful as the sorcerer Hoyt (of course) – and Blair is a completely kick-ass warrior who comes in to take the place of King. As hinted at above, parts of Roberts’ tale frustrated me. Even though she doesn’t come out directly and say it, throughout the dialogue it is hinted subtly that Glenna’s magical prowess isn’t as good as Hoyt’s. She has to use various herbs, write rhyming spells and must use his power in order to create an exceptional spell. As someone who adores reading strong women this frustrated me beyond belief. Now I know Hoyt is from the twelfth century with a hell of a lot to learn about the twenty-first century woman, and I also understand that they are more powerful together (that just makes sense!) but I do not understand why Glenna must be portrayed as inferior magically. Despite this, she is depicted easily as one of the stronger characters within battle training; using her wits, magical abilities and intelligence to constantly outsmart the others within the Circle. Her attitude and the way she is able to cow even the all-powerful, vampiric figure of Cian is wonderful. I found her an incredibly entertaining character to read with her witty replies and the humour which surrounded her figure throughout.

We are not introduced to Blair until late in the novel, so I am looking forward to hearing more of her in the next book. She is the definition of a strong female who is scarily handy with a stake – look out, Cian! She takes no nonsense, is easily the most skilled warrior within the entire circle and soon takes the place of King – the deceased 6ft, dark skinned giant. To me, Roberts’ replacement of King with the much more petite Blair symbolises the strength which she symbolises. She charges into the house with no shame and no worry, doesn’t boast but is matter-of-fact about all of the vampire deaths she has caused and shamelessly resumes the role of trainer. The characters reactions to her – once they’ve assured she is to be trusted – allowed me to feel that there was finally hope for the union of this circle of supernaturals and that they will have a chance of battling against Lilith, the evil vampire mistress and Cian’s creator. The only issue which I encountered with the figure of Blair was that Roberts seemed to rush through her history with a brief spell conjured by Glenna and Hoyt. I am hoping that we learn more of this mysterious figure within the next books as she seems fascinating. All that we are aware of is that she has a broken engagement and has endured a lot of pain in order to become the warrior that she now is.

Ms. Roberts succeeds in drawing a creative and intriguing picture of the events which would unfold if figures from various centuries and worlds were to come together, with some very comic results. Hoyt’s lessons in the modern are hysterical, with Glenna having an unbelievable amount of patience with him as he discovers, cars, lifts, nightclubs, cooking utensils and… shock horror – jeans! He is a likable character, but sometimes it is difficult to remain on the same page as his ye oldie beliefs break out of him which is exceedingly frustrating with regards to the women. Although, you could easily argue that’s Roberts doing an extraordinary job with keeping him in character despite the century difference! The drama which unfolds between Hoyt and Cian – his long-lost brother, in which he blames himself for the physical and metaphorical death, as Cian is now a vampire – is intriguing, with the brothers getting into constant scraps with each other over the smallest things. The contrast between the pair is phenomenal with Hoyt sticking rigidly to the chivalric code and Cian not caring a damn about how roughed up Moira and Glenna get in training. Cian, although a harsh and dark figure, makes for an interesting read as we battle to understand the reasons for his fighting against not just his own kind, but his creator. We are given glimpses of the dark past which encompasses the brothers and just leaves me eager to find out more!

Last but not least of the six which make up our heroic Circle is Moira and Larkin. They are both newbies to the technology age, just like Hoyt, and have travelled from their own little world. The pair are cousins and have been thrust into this battle following immediately from their own personal battles – the death of Moira’s parents. The final twist which makes these figures more than perfect for the battle is that their deaths were caused by a vampire. This creates a massive rift at the beginning as Moira is intrigued yet repulsed by the figure of Cian – personally I am just waiting for the point in which they get together! Come on, it’s got to happen! There is so much underlying tension between the pair as the novel progresses – although none of it openly sexual – that I will be hugely surprised if nothing happens. Who knows, I may be wrong! Anyway, back to the characters. Moira won my heart the moment she wielded her bow. As an archer myself I felt at once connected with her, I shared an interest and could understand completely the feelings she held with her bow. Despite her being portrayed as a weak female, she is an amazing archer with so much precision and fails to miss. Cian is constantly ridiculing the Circle for their lack of skills within training, but Moira is quick to invite him to learn the art of archery – to her level! Larkin, I felt, was overshadowed within the novel. I didn’t feel that he was introduced or explored enough to form a solid opinion of him and I am hoping that he develops further within the next book. He is compassionate, protective and a shape-shifter. He has the potential to win me as favourite character just by being a shape-shifter, but unfortunately I don’t think he has been explored enough for me to say all too much about it as of now. His love for Moira is clear, he is constantly within reach to protect her – which is, according to Cian and the female characters a weakness in itself. They must learn to trust that the females can look after themselves.

Lilith. The villain of the novel. Once again, I don’t feel that she was a character which was developed enough to warrant a detailed review. We are given an outline of her figure and her goal, that of taking complete control of mankind – no matter what century. This is cleverly done as we are witness to the many layers of destruction Lilith is capable of from the twelfth century which Hoyt inhabits, to the world of Geall which Moira has left, right up to the current twenty-first century in which Cian and Glenna are a part. The layering of the novel is wonderful, allowing us deeper insight into the difficulty of the bonds the goddess Morrigan expects these six figures to develop in such a short period of time. The difficulty of the task is immediately clear, not just the task of destroying Lilith, but the task of finding and developing and army strong enough to be able to do this. It is apparent that Lilith will wait for no one. She is ruthless with her followers, killing those which displease her. The only follower which seems to have enough room to make the smallest error is her closest friend and ex-lover, Lora. I am hoping we hear more about the past relationship of these characters, alongside the history of Lilith. What was it that made her into such an evil character?

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this as a book to read. It is a light, easy read. Simplistic language is used by Roberts with an easy but interesting plot to follow. The creativity of the layering of the worlds is great – although it would be interesting to see the use of the various worlds throughout, but I very much doubt that would happen. It is an enjoyable, humorous and touching read and I really enjoyed it!


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