The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron (2012)

March 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm (fantasy)

ImageThis wasn’t the book I went to the bookstore for, but it was one of the three I allowed myself to buy this month. (Sure, it’s three volumes in one, but it counts as one purchase!)

And I bought it because I’d never before read a book in which the first scene features a protagonist sweet-talking a door. I just had to read the whole thing. Also, the cover art is perfect – how could you NOT like a book with that face on it?

But I digress. The titular Eli Monpress, sweet-talker of doors, rocks, and entire forests, romps larcenously through a vaguely earth-like world in which spirits inhabit everything. Those few who can hear and speak to them can get them to do extraordinary things that inanimate objects, plants, and so forth normally don’t do. Eli, however, is unusual even among these. I’m not going to tell you how, but I will tell you that there’s a reason such a young man is acting like he’s trying to get all his shots in before the end comes (note: it’s more complicated than a terminal illness). Apparently we’ll have to wait until the next volume or so to find out how that actually works out, though.

There are other major characters. The strait-laced and well-meaning Miranda would, to be honest, hold up better as a character in a book that didn’t have Eli in it. She also unbends quite a bit along the way, but sticks to her principles (including the one that says she has to arrest Eli, as soon as arresting him wouldn’t also cause a worse disaster), and you have to respect that. There’s Josef the swordsman, who we have to wait a while to learn more about, and his sword Heart of War (I’d call it a magic sword but frankly it’s more like a force of nature). And there’s Nico, a girl who has the great misfortune to be inhabited by a demonseed – created by a malign entity that’s been trapped under a mountain. There’s a whole organization devoted to hunting down demonseeds, which is yet another complication. These last two are Eli’s partners-in-crime.

Three books’ worth of plot and world-building is impossible to sum up in one review. The pace of revelations about the characters and their world is well-thought-out and creates a solid feeling of being given the information necessary, at the right time, to understand what’s going on in the story. It’s moving toward truly world-shaking events, it seems, and I look forward to seeing how it all works out.

What I liked best, however, is that the books are both dead serious and light-hearted, with events and issues of grave import – and moments of sheer ludicrousness. A lot of high fantasy these days seems to be grim, grim, grim all the time, and this series is a very nice change of pace.

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3 Comments

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) said,

    Thanks for the review. I talk to the author on twitter…

    • diaryofatextaddict said,

      … and every author likes to see positive reviews! Even from obscure corners of the Internet. šŸ˜Ž

  2. La Leggenda di Eli Monpress | strategie evolutive said,

    […] The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron (2012) (diaryofatextaddict.wordpress.com) […]

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