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Restoration
Carol Berg
Roc Books, 475 pages

Restoration
Carol Berg
Carol Berg lives in Colorado but has her roots in Texas. She attended Rice University and received a BA in Mathematics. After teaching high school math for several years, she stayed home and raised her children, attending the University of Colorado where she earned a BS in Computer Science. She works as a software engineer for Hewlett-Packard.

Carol Berg Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

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I started reading Restoration with little expectation of finishing it. I am not a Fantasy enthusiast and the Frazetta-esque cover art put me off. Also, it's the third book in a trilogy and I hadn't read the first two.

But much to my surprise I quickly became caught up in the action of this strongly written novel about a sorcerer who has taken a demon into his soul.

When the king of Azhakstan is murdered, enemies accuse his son, Aleksander, of treachery and drive him from his kingdom. But Seyonne, former body slave to the prince, knows that Aleksander is the kingdom's best hope. So he leaves his quiet retreat in the countryside and returns to Aleksander's service, following him into exile and using his growing magical powers to help the rightful king regain the throne.

That's a large enough mission, but the demon sharing Seyonne's soul is leading him into even more dangerous realms. Through dream journeys he meets Nyel, the last of the ancient gods, who is imprisoned in a fortress in another world. Seyonne is the only man who can release Nyel, but ancient legends warn that freeing this beautiful god will destroy all humanity.

Carol Berg is a heck of a writer. Restoration is a long book, crammed with detail, and Berg has to squeeze in a lot of necessary background from her two previous books; nonetheless she kept me turning pages. The novel seethes with blood, dust, dung, and martial mayhem, but what really carries the story is the compelling and charmingly flawed protagonist, Seyonne -- a man who strikes terror into his enemies as he swoops onto the battlefield like an avenging angel, but who is socially awkward and terrified of talking to his own young son.

Although the medieval setting of Restoration is fairly standard, Berg makes considerable effort to depict the lives of poor people in her society, not just nobles. I liked this commendable (if not entirely convincing) attempt to redress the Fantasy genre's rose-coloured view of brutal autocracies and subsistence living. (Heck, if we just put a GOOD king on the throne then everything will be perfect!)

However, that's a flaw of the genre rather than Berg's, and my enjoyment of her sword and sorcery epic only goes to prove that a talented writer can craft a rivetting read out of almost any subject.

Readers with a taste for high adventure should enjoy Restoration very much and might want to track down the prequels (Transformation and Revelation) in order to read the whole saga in sequence.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at http://www.donna-mcmahon.com/.


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