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on June 18, 2012 :
Hemlock and the Wizard Tower is the story of a talented thief's ability to infiltrate and overcome the Wizard Guild's regulation of everyday magic so that once again magic that was used for good and to help others can do so again.
Hemlock uses her special power to battle her way through the tower with the aid of some unusual characters to try and succeed and attempt to save her sister.
It took me a couple of chapters to get into this story but once I did I enjoyed the journey watching Hemlock change from a vigilante to a heroine. The flashbacks gave a further dimension to the imaginative world that has been created by the author which was a pleasant change to other magical worlds and gave the reader enough intrigue to follow the story to its end. This was a good beginning to a story that definitely has more to tell.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on June 14, 2011 :
Hemlock and the Wizard Tower follows the exploits of a talented thief, Hemlock, living on a magic-laden world controlled by the all powerful Wizard Guild. Sneaking into the heart of their operation, the Wizard Tower, Hemlock attempts to learn why the magic that normally would help her sister has recently been failing. Blaming the wizards (wizards be damned!), she uses all her extraordinary skills to infiltrate their Tower, something no one has ever been successful in accomplishing. With the aid of her mentor, a renegade wizard, and even a mechanical golem, Hemlock is swept up in the battle to break the Wizard Guild’s regulation of everyday magic.
I truly enjoyed this story. Character development was good. I liked how Hemlock went from rooftop vigilante to a very believable heroine whom people looked up to. I liked the author’s use of italics to portray flashbacks. What I really enjoyed, though, was how everything flowed so smoothly. The inner circles of the Wizard Guild, the different sections of the city, the outlying lands, etc. One critique I had was about the main antagonist, Falignus. There were times when I wasn’t sure if he was truly evil, or if he had underlying motives causing him to behave as he did. Fortunately, it didn’t distract from the story in the slightest. I was hoping for more history about Merit, but maybe in a sequel?
Speaking of sequels, I thought I saw somewhere that the author was working on a second book. I sure hope so! To anyone out there that loves fantasy, this is a fantastic book! Be sure to check it out!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Feb. 07, 2011 :
Hemlock and the Wizard Tower follow Hemlock a former thief with a certain sensitivity to magic who has turned vigilante. The story takes place in a magical city that actually moves from realm to realm having only a few regions permanently attached to it. Hemlock lives in the Warrens, which is the run down part of town. She spent most of her life being a thief until she tried to steal from Safreon, the original vigilante. These two team up to help keep the Warrens safe for normal people to live.
Magic permeates the city all of it rigorously controlled by the Wizards Guild (headquartered in the Wizards Tower). Hemlock's sister is sick and will die without magical aid. However the magic of the Warrens is on the decline very quickly. Thinking that the wizards are somehow siphoning off the power from the Warrens for their own terrible plots Hemlock decides to break into their tower and do something about it. Using her special power she actually manages to succeed where no one has and penetrates the terrible defenses of the tower. Once inside she meed Merit (who for some reason is my favorite) a mechanical and magical blend clockwork gnome. Merit gives her some information and she uses it to get further into the tower. I will leave off saying that thing do not go as planned at all.
If you check out the sample of this book it almost seems like the story is finished when the sample ends. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was surprised and pleased with the way the book developed especially how italicized flashbacks were used to really explain where the characters came from. The only thing I did not really enjoy was Falignus head of the Wizards Guild. His personality jumped from compassionate and understanding to crazy power hungry derangement several times and I never really understood why. That being a minor issue in what is a very good story overall.
This book is well worth the .99 that it is selling for, and there is a second book planned for sometime in 2012. A great story with some fantastic characters well done all around.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Nov. 20, 2010 :
I enjoyed this story tremendously - it's filled with great detail and descriptions, contrasted wonderfully with a sweeping scope and epic adventure, painted with human and not-so-human emotional challenges and growth, all in a structure of logically evolving plots, conflicts, and resolutions.
Hemlock is initially portrayed as the reluctant heroine driven to reach beyond herself when she finds herself in a desperate predicament: her sister lies helplessly ill and the magic that might save her is fading. Blaming the wizards in the Tower, she sets out against all odds to find and remove whatever is causing the magic to fade. The story follows her adventures and growth as she learns the complex truth and consequences of her actions.
Hemlock's predicament, her response, and her growth, are all very plausible and emotionally satisfying, as well as the characterizations of the other main players in the saga. I would have liked to see her kick more action butt at the end but that's just the Hollywood in me; the way she actually pulls through is far more in character and believable. There are no broad clumsy B&W strokes of 'cookie-cutter' good-guys vs. bad-guys, but rather well positioned conflicts of intersecting interests.
The range of scale, scope, and conflict in the story is huge, from personal internal emotional conflict to army-sized brew-ups and sieges. The contrasting of these different scales and viewpoints is well balanced and keeps the pace moving rapidly along.
The tricks, traps, and magic Hemlock encounters on her journey (especially in the Wizard's Tower of course!) are
very creative and fun. I was challenged to put myself in her situation to see how I'd measure up (alas, I would've died, several times over...).
The logic of the entire world meshes seamlessly and never feels forced, contrived, or artificial. Great detail is provided where needed, but like spotlights on a stage providing bright clarity where needed, the areas out of the spotlights can only be imagined and leave a strong yearning for more. I hope there are sequels because I want to know more about the nomadic teleporting city and how it interacts with the locales it visits; more about the history of the four outlying regions that travel with the city & its peoples; and so on.
To sum up, if you enjoy being immersed in a fantasy world that is at once both very real because it just 'works' and yet completely different from our own, where strong characters forge their destinies in epic conflict, this story is for you!
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Sep. 26, 2010 :
Within the Prologue of this story, you are immediately drawn into a magical world where practitioners can heal or harm with the use of magic. But the magic is fading in the Warrens, and Hemlock is impelled to find out why. With a bravery known only to a few, she sets out on an epic adventure to infiltrate the Wizard Tower in the City. There, she plans to destroy the machine she believes is sucking all the magic out of the Warrens. This adventure takes on unexpected turns, as Hemlock finds herself joining forces with a series of magical beings, in a variety of unexpected places.
This book is truly an epic, following Hemlock through many adventures to accomplish her main goal. It is set up to be a serial, and there is plenty of room for the adventure to continue. Hemlock's story is not over yet. While reading, I was reminded of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, although I must admit I haven't read them for many, many years. The worlds created in this book are rich with detail, and this initial story could easily be divided into two stories. After such detailed adventure throughout the story, the ending seemed quite rushed to me. It felt like the pivotal scene with Falignus would actually be better served in a second story. There are seven Wands, perhaps seven stories would be realistic?
As I began reading this book, I immediately noticed that the writing, though fluid and obviously well thought out, was quite dense with description. In trying to trying to decide if I liked the extremely detailed and descriptive writing, I soon realized that it let nothing to the imagination. I think one of the wonderful things about reading is the ability to let the reader infer some of the storyline. When the reader is inferring, the reader is engaged in the story, and it becomes that much more enjoyable. We all want to lose ourselves in great books, this is why we read. In this story, there was nothing to infer, as it was all spelled out quite clearly. Although I think the writing was well-constructed, I really wanted a bit less, so I could engage more. I wasn't able to truly immerse myself in the story; I felt as if I were reading a clinical reporting on an historic adventure. This detached feeling I got from reading was disappointing, as the storyline was ultimately one in which I could have truly engaged. The rich details were engaging, the extensive explanation so there was nothing to infer was not.
I really think that revising would take this really interesting storyline to the next step and become the epic adventure the author intended. If you like detailed epic fantasy, this book is right up your alley. Either way, I do think this is a story with great potential, and I was glad to be on Hemlock's adventure.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)