Review of Cerith Baldry: The Roses of Roazon

The Roses of RoazonCherith Baldry
The Roses of Roazon
[rate 3] You know it’s not going to let you down, but it doesn’t challenge you in any way, or over stimulate you at all.

I really rather liked this one. I wasn’t expecting on it, seeing as how I just grabbed it off the shelf as I was passing in the Library, but it turned out to be one of those one-day books I get sometimes. You know, the ones that you start over the morning cup of tea at 8am, and next time you look up you find its 1230 and you’ve finished. It is also one of those rare books – the one volume epic. There has been a notable (and rather depressing) trend in fantasy lately for the trilogy. Sometimes this works (Robin Hobb‘s three related trilogies are exquisite), but more often than not it is just an excuse for laziness. Often times you find enough ideas for one book stretched between three, sometimes more. Robert Jordan (will the Wheel of Time sequence NEVER end?) is more than a little to blame for this I feel, but I am sure Hollywood with it’s love of sequels should shoulder some of the culpability, that, and other causes. But that’s not what I want to get into now.

Roses isn’t bad. It has a good premise – a medieval Brittany analogue, but where visions of the future and other slightly unconventional things (I hesitate to say magic) are the norm – the characters are nicely sketched out, and the tension builds to a pretty climatic ending. It’s slightly predictable in that who ends up with who is clear from a good few units-of-distance-measurement away (bar one relationship that, whilst clearly doomed, wasn’t totally obvious), and (I don’t think I am going to surprise anyone here) good triumphs, but it is definitely a cut above the standard fantasy you find giving the genre a bad name.

If I have a problem with the book, it is with the ending. The last two or three chapters felt a little rushed – the sort of rush you get when the editor goes “Um, we’re at 500 pages already and you’re showing no signs of wrapping it up…” – and there was a uncomfortably forced messianic parallel which left a bad taste in my mouth. Think the Neo’s ending in Matrix Three and you get where I am headed.

Other than that, I would recommend this book. Perhaps not enough to buy it full price, but get it out of the library again, and buy any other books of hers that I find (going cheap/on special offer). And make a mental note not to start reading one if you have to get an early night or have important work to do!