Friday, June 27, 2014

New Book Review - The Leopard

Book - The Leopard  
Writer - K. V. Johansen   
Series - Marakand #1   
Published By - Pyr

First things first, I got this book from the publisher, so thank you Pyr for this opportunity.
Well, you have to merit innovative and imaginative world-building, of which this book has plenty. The richly imagined world was very fun to explore and the author can also write good characters. I quickly found myself fascinated by some of the characters and despite having not much action, found myself thoroughly devouring the pages; and then came the second part. As a two part book, the second part somehow didn't really gel with the first for me and at times felt forcefully detached.
'The Leopard' has its setting in a middle eastern influenced world, in which the author takes quite a different approach for her races and magic system as well. And the story is told from the viewpoints of some fascinating characters. After a kind of mysterious and enjoyable prologue, we are quickly introduced with the titular character Ahjvar who is known as 'The Leopard', who is sought out by a princess send on a mission to find him by a god; who ironically wants Ahjvar to go on a mission of his own, to kill a false/mad priest of a god in Marakand. Ahjvar is promised salvation from his curse in reward for this mission from the god. He somewhat reluctantly agrees and journeys to his goal with his servant/companion Ghu, who is one of the most interesting character of the book. Through a few trials and some good character exploration they reach their destination, again goes through some more trials and their story ends in a kind of a cliffhanger a bit more than halfway through the book. Up to this the book was excellent and almost flawless in execution, barring a few too many similarly/confusingly named characters which forced me to go back to the 'dramatis personae' at the beginning.

The second part is where the book loses some of its charm. It may be due to the fact that the author introduces characters from her previous novel in the same world and unlike the characters from the first part it is hard to relate to them. Mostly due to the fact that the author seems not really trying to introduce the readers with these characters in quite the same way, as it somehow seems that she thinks we already care for them. This part tells the story of Moth and Mikki seeking on their own mission; and also the 'Blackdog' Holla-Sayan, trying to lead a normal life, yet getting tangled in the troubles brewing in Marakand. It was hard for me to appreciate these characters as I didn't read 'Blackdog' and I kept hoping to read more of the characters from the first part which really hampered my enjoyment.
The middle-eastern feeling world was very unique and the different tribes/races; their cultures, customs, gods and their myths were really quite fun to read about. The influence of Tolkien and LotR is apparent through the methodology of story telling in part of the author and I for one really enjoyed that bit. One other nice aspect was the stunning cover and the delightful maps which really made the city of Marakand that much more beautiful to imagine.  

For me the book really suffered due to its second part, cause as a new reader I felt somewhat unwelcome and it felt a bit like false advertising as this book was supposed to be first part of a duo-logy. But owing to the promise of the things to come and once again due to desire for more exploration of this wonderfully and vividly imagined world I would definitely come back for the second part. I really wanna know what happens to the likes Ghu, Ahjvar, Deyandara, Nour etc. and for making me feel that way the author do deserve a lot of praise.

I was thinking of giving this 4.5 while reading its first part, but due to the sense of wariness and confusion in its second part I have to give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

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