3 stars, leaning towards 4. Tarr's linguistic and medieval expertise is evident in her trilogy THE HOUND AND THE FALCON, beginning with this clever bo..Show More »ok. Told in 3rd person, this is a thoughtful and historically credible (Fair Folk notwithstanding) political fantasy set during the time of the Crusades and King Richard the Lionhearted. The Knights Templar get a mention, too.
It took me a while to become engrossed, with several false starts, but eventually I was hooked. A plot to weaken and overthrow the king of Anglia. A zealous religious order (the Pauline Order) similar to the Spanish Inquisition (interesting take on Brother Adam). A strong bond of friendship. A budding romance. A nuanced view of King Richard. And of the church.
Slow moving, but some frightful action scenes, some heartwarming scenes, some witty dialogue, some profound moments.
Lots of likable characters here, including some solid secondary characters (Abbot Morwin, Jehan, Thea, etc.). Some church clerics are quite villainous but others are kind and heroic. Credible. I sensed no overt bias in the writer.
My heart went out to Alf (Alfred, a brother of the Order of Jerome) for the inner struggles he had to endure (sometimes I grew impatient with him — I wanted him to fight back and feel no regrets) but he comes out on the other side, stronger and more at peace within his own fair skin. He's happier. And well-loved by anyone with sense, given his own capacity to love and understand and forgive.
There is a surprisingly upbeat Christian message relating to the soul and the creator, but this book didn't feel like it was written to appeal to Christians, per se, given the tolerance towards homosexuality.
Setting: England, about 1200. The title, Isle of Glass (aka Ynys Witrin) is known today as the city of Glastonbury. It is south of Bristol, and not really an island. Rather, from what I can gather, it is high ground surrounded by marshes and mists, making it look sometimes like an island from the high Tor above. The Marches are also key to the book, apparently they are the old borderlands between Anglia (England) and Wales. Lots of Old English, Old French, and Celtic / Welch names in this book.
Narration is fine but it doesn't add anything to the experience.
The Hound and the Falcon trilogy has long been one of my favorite fastasy/history series, and I am delighted that it is now available on Audible. Jud..Show More »ith Tarr is deeply knowledgeable about Celtic legends, the Crusades and the medieval church, and she has created an internally consistent alternate reality compounded to the mix. Her characters are heroic but flawed, though most of the villains are thoroughly corrupted. Who would have thought that a question of the existence vel non of the human soul could be presented with such poignancy? The magic is not crude, cute or silly; it is integral to the story. Tarr is interested in how people know and touch each other; her magic is used mostly to create intimacies that most real people long for but never achieve.