Book Review Redux: Stained Glass Monsters


stained glass monsters

Creatures from the Eferum are a world-wide problem: creeping through tears in the fabric of space, they feast on every unprotected human they can find.

Tyrland has a solution in the Kellian: faster and stronger than humans, they are Tyrland’s clawed, shadowy monster hunters. But no matter how faithfully they serve, or how true their sworn word, they are too different, too separate, to ever be entirely trusted.

Rennyn Claire is a complication. Secretive and obscenely powerful, she knows entirely too much about a massive new threat to Tyrland’s safety. Worst of all, she is linked to a past that the Kellian would rather forget.

All three of these things – monsters, Kellian, and an entirely overpowered mage – are about to land in Kendall Stockton’s lap. The last thing Kendall wants is to try to play conscience to someone who can swat her like a bug. But innocent lives are at stake, and no-one else seems willing to ask if what is necessary is the right thing to do.

And who, exactly, is the monster?

Pros – Ren, folk actually discussing the best way to do something, Helecho the Bastard

Cons -Sometimes very long discussions about magic, Kendall for much of it

(please note: a version of this review appeared originally on Poisoned Rationality. I’ve since updated and tweaked it after a recent re-read.  Additions are noted in italics)

Review – Its to be expected that I would enjoy this, all of Höst’s books have been greatly enjoyed by me (this still holds true fyi).  Those familiar with Höst’s works (CHAMPION OF THE ROSE or the Medair duology mainly) will recognize some of the patterns here.  Pre-ordained event, things spiral out of control due to unforeseen variables, and then clever planning (with a bit of contingency planning as well) wins the day with a layer of bittersweet consequence.  This is of course much MORE than that–it doesn’t describe Ren’s fractured morality or Kendall’s stubborn need for independence or the Kellian’s complicated history making a mush of their present circumstances–but the bare bones run down to that I think.

Ren has moved herself up on my list of Höst’s characters by simply being everything she says she is and not giving an inch to anyone who says otherwise.  Very few people seem to understand what exactly Ren is doing or giving up.  Faille understood, maybe because his people (the Kellian, golem constructs of magic made by the Black Queen 300 years ago to be her brute force) are stuck in a similar position.  Ren could, and did do, everything in her power to keep the Grand Summoning from occurring, but she’s tainted by her ancestry.

Kendall is more or less an after thought at first.  Used by the Sentene to track Ren, then shuffled off to a school of mages too far advanced for her untutored self, before finally she’s tossed about understanding way more then anyone gives her credit for (initially).  The inclusion of things from her point of view does a lot to explain everything that Ren doesn’t care about (or can’t think about).  We see more of the politics, hear more from the outsider observations about how the ordinary people see things.

As Kendall begins to understand what’s going on, the reader can see the larger picture and understand a lot of what Ren isn’t saying and Kendall can’t know.

On this re-read I realized how much I wanted to shake Kendall. She spends a lot of time being rather sullen because she’s stuck in a school learning how to control her magic while the world is getting attacked by the Black Queen’s plots. After she’s saved, for no other reason then Ren didn’t want to let her die.

I would have liked to spend more time with the Kellians.  We see basically three and those are the three we learn the most about.  Sukata who is passionate about her magical studies, Sukata’s mother Captain Illuma who is damned good at her job and then Faille, who interestingly apparently was a topic of sympathy from his fellows from almost as soon as Ren appeared (though how he knew is beyond me).  Over the course of the novel both Kendall and Ren observe ways to understand the feelings of the Kellians, but by in large they are much more shrouded in mystery.

Things move quickly in the book and at this I come to sticking point.  I’m not entirely sure how much time passed from the first page to the last, though at least a month went past based on something Seb (Ren’s younger brother) said.  That being the case, Ren’s interest in Faille seemed to just suddenly appear.  Not like insta-love (just add lust), but it was just there suddenly and I’m not sure the story supported it fully.

While I still feel like the interest came on awful quick, I’ve come to realize its less that Ren didn’t notice him and more that she was very committed to her first line of thought.  Personal relationships, except for with her brother Seb, took a far back seat to her obligations.  As she mentions to several people “everything else” could come after they pushed Solace back.

A companion sequel has been written and release, THE SLEEPING LIFE, which I will review shortly as well.  That said I would like to see the hunt for a character who survives and I can’t name because its a spoiler.  As Ren said, if she had a life of ease she’d get bored wouldn’t she?

Want to Know More?

Published by: Andrea K Host
Release: January 2011
Series: First in Series
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Lexie Words

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