I would have given this one 3.5 stars if I had been able to, but please don't take me wrong. I love this series and found the narration here to add significantly to my enjoyment. Many characters are introduced in this, the first book of the Fionavar Tapestry. Simon Vance gives us a clean and easy to follow interpretation of the, possibly too many, different regional groups that we meet herein.
If you like books that delve in to character development, Kay very rarely disappoints. Additionally, the world he creates is different enough to be fantasy without being so strange that it becomes completely ridiculous. Here, not only do we get a world that becomes the setting for the story, but a glimpse of things to come and an interweaving of that world's legends with our own.
In true Kay fashion, we are introduced to so many different characters and groups that is can become confusing. The narration, giving each of these characters and groups a unique voice, should go a long way to saving this one for those who haven't read it in print. Also, and true to many a first-of-trilogy tomes, a great deal of this book is spent introducing us to people, concepts, lore and mythology of the world within the story. This can make it feel a bit long at times, mostly because we don't yet know why much of it is important.
If you can read this with the understanding that it is the first book of three, it is a wonderful introduction to story and character. However, without reading the "rest" of the story, this book does fall a bit short of being able to stand on its own merit.
I do believe that this trilogy is worth reading and that the story and characters become more compelling with each successive book. I also think that you need to go in to this one with the understanding that it is the first 1/3 of a story and so much of it is spent giving us enough knowledge to follow and enjoy the second and third books.
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