Every year in the great Temple City of Duvalpore, the image of the Wheel of the Infinite must be painstakingly remade to ensure another year of peace and harmony for the Celestial Empire. Every hundred years the sacred rite takes on added significance. For it is then that the very fabric of the world must be rewoven. Linked by the mystic energies of the Infinite, the Wheel and world are one. Should the holy image be marred, the world will suffer a similar injury. But a black storm is spreading across the Wheel. Every night the Voices of the Ancestors - the Wheel's constructors and caretakers - brush the darkness away and repair the damage with brightly colored sands and potent magic. Each morning the storm reappears, bigger and darker than before, unraveling the beautiful and orderly patterns. With chaos in the wind, a woman with a shadowy past has returned to Duvalpore.A murderer and traitor - an exile disgraced, hated, and feared, and haunted by her own guilty conscience - Maskelle has been summoned back to help put the world right. Once she was the most revered of the Voices, until cursed by her own actions. Now, in the company of Rian - a skilled and dangerously alluring swordsman - she must confront dread enemies old and new and a cold, stalking malevolence unlike any she has ever encountered.
©2000 Martha Wells (P)2013 Tantor
"Superior fantasy work from one of the best in the field." (Kirkus Starred Review)
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
This is absolutely one of my favorite fantasy novels. Wells does a great job in creating her worlds and populating them with interesting characters and creatures. I've read it repeatedly over the years since it first came out with may be my problem with the narrator, but more about that below.
This book is set mainly in the City of Duvalpore although it starts outside the boundaries that protect the city with a band of actors accompanied by a woman named Maskelle travel toward the great festival that accompanies the remaking of the Wheel of the Infinite. Maskelle has been summoned by the spiritual leader of Duvalpore. She would not be returning otherwise, having been branded a traitor and murderer by the temporal powers. As the Voice of Adversary, she has also lost her ability to communicate with that powerful force that is also the source of her power.
But all is not well in Duvalpore and Maskelle accompanied by the troop of players and Rian, a Swordsman from the Sitane is going to shortly find out that there is much to be done.
Wells writes with real talent and wit. This book is highly recommended even with a few caveats about the narration.
OK, the narration. I've never listened to anything else read by Pitts, but I thought that she read too slowly and deliberately. I tried increasing the speed to 1.25 x but that ended up making it too fast. Also the accent she used is clearly from the United States, which jarred. I've always heard this book in my head with a trace of an Indian accent due to the names and the descriptions of the city and people. I would have enjoyed something just a little more exotic.
The world was creative and the characters distinctive
I don't usually pay much attention to the narration when it works. This narrator had the accent of the American south. Completely at odds with an exotic location. In addition, she mispronounced words. I cringed a lot listening to her.
Martha Wells creates interesting worlds and characters. She needs a different narrator for this one.
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