on March 18, 2014 :
I found this book to be kind of slow-paced, but still decent. The main thing keeping me from buying the sequel, No Safe Haven, is residual anger at Ran-Del and, to a certain extent, Francesca. More on that below.
In the first third of the book, readers learn about city dweller and Sansoussy culture through the eyes of characters who know as little as they do. Although Ran-Del has been kidnapped, Stefan wants him to come to like living in the city, so he's perfectly willing to answer whatever questions Ran-Del may have. Then, when Francesca stays briefly with Ran-Del's people, she gets to ask basic questions about Sansoussy life. I appreciated that neither city dweller life nor Sansoussy life was depicted as wholly “good” or “bad,” although it seemed like the book paid more attention to the nitty gritty details of Sansoussy life than it did city dweller life.
While I liked Ran-Del and Francesca's question-and-answer sessions at first, I eventually got to the point where I wished Buxton had incorporated information about the different cultures into the story more smoothly. I was happy when the story moved on to its next big phase, Ran-Del and Francesca's marriage. Unfortunately, that part became increasingly frustrating and stressful for me, to the point that I checked whether there was a sequel just so I could find out whether Ran-Del and Francesca were still married by the end of the book without actually looking at the last few pages.
When I first started reading the book, I felt more sympathy for Ran-Del than any of the other characters. I gradually grew to like Francesca, though. She did what she could to make it easier for Ran-Del to get back to his people, and I loved that, when things started to get a little steamy between her and Ran-Del, she stopped things enough to give Ran-Del an opportunity to decide whether he really wanted to go further (Sansoussy people only have sex after marriage, so Francesca was more sexually experienced than Ran-Del). I couldn't imagine Francesca and Ran-Del getting married and actually being happy together, but I did come to like and sympathize with them both.
After they made their marriage 100% binding for both their cultures, things changed, and I began to get more and more frustrated and annoyed with Ran-Del and Francesca, but mostly with Ran-Del (I can't reveal my reasons for getting upset with Francesca without including a spoiler, so I'm just not going to go into that bit). Ran-Del had made such a big deal about Sansoussy marriages, and how Francesca needed to realize that she couldn't sleep with other men, and how he of course would never even think of sleeping with any woman but her. And then he proceeded to spend a lot of time with Janis, a woman who he knew was interested in him and didn't care that he was married. He got angry when Francesca felt jealous, conveniently forgetting that, unlike him, Francesca couldn't read his emotions and know for a fact that he wasn't cheating on her.
There were a few times I came very close to hating Ran-Del for the way he handled the situation between himself, Janis, and Francesca. I wasn't sure what sort of ending the book was moving towards – since this was a science fiction novel, and not romance, a happy ending wasn't guaranteed. Although the description of the sequel told me that Ran-Del and Francesca would still be married by the end of the book, I couldn't imagine how Buxton would make me believe in the longevity of their relationship. I didn't really want them to stay together, but I didn't know how Francesca would deal with the threats against the House of Hayden without the aid of Ran-Del's special abilities.
Surprisingly, Buxton did manage to convince me that Ran-Del and Francesca's marriage could work. I wish the deciding moment hadn't come so late in the book, and I wish I could believe that Ran-Del and Francesca would handle future bumps in their relationship better. If I do get the sequel, it will be some time from now, because the idea of reading more about the two of them still stresses me out a little. I loved the book's exploration of two very different cultures, and I liked both Francesca and Ran-Del as individuals, but as a couple they were kind of nerve-wracking. I might take a look at some of the other books Buxton has written, instead.
(Originally posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions)
(review of free book)
on Oct. 24, 2013 :
The Sixth Discipline by Carmen Webster Buxton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Sixth Discipline (Haven) by Carmen Webster Buxton
I really liked this story and found myself immersed from the first page and onward.
The Sixth Discipline is yet one more of those kidnapped novels that seem so popular out there. What makes this one different for me was the way it grabbed my interest from the start and kept it. It was not the intense action and a massive seat of the pants type of hook that every other author seems to think the reader needs. It was more a subtle gentle drawing into the mystery that surrounds the story. It kept me reading it almost straight through.(I did have to stop to sleep and then go to work.)
The story starts with Ran-Del a simple hunter of the Sansoussy people of the Falling Water Clan. Only we quickly find that there is nothing simple about the Sansoussy people. Right away we are acquainted with the Disciplines as Ran-Del uses them to calm himself after being shot with some sort of paralyzing agent. The people who capture him are from the city and seem to know a lot about his people. Once they realize their massive dose has failed to render him unconscious (via the disciplines) they give him something more to make him collapse into darkness.
I found that even though the excitement in most of the scenes seemed a bit muted when compared with many action yarns, Carmen Webster Buxton knows how to tell a good story well; blending mystery and intrigue and romance. Ran-Del's character is interesting and I quite agree with his attitude toward being kidnapped. And though his primary kidnapper seems to have a good self justifiable reason for this crime Baron Stefan Haydon could seriously work on his methods. It could almost be comical when his daughter, Francesca seems to alternately go along almost complacently sometimes and other times is on the verge of rebellion against her father's strange plan. Either way kidnapping is kidnapping and that's really no way to find your daughter a good mate or to make friends.
Partly by plan and part by accident or perhaps part by way of the Psy/Precog nature of the Falling Water Clan Stefan's plans go just a bit south when the tables get turned. His daughter gets a chance to experience this whole thing from the other side and the reader gets to find that the Falling Water Clan is almost as bat crazy as Francesca's father in the form of Ran-Del's Great grandfather a shaman who is a seer who has a vision about Ran-del and Francesca.
Stefan Hayden wants to preserve his family line and fortune and ensure his daughter's safety in a city that is full of rich families that truck in plots and intrigue and his worries will prove to be well founded. His solution is to bring in an outsider (Ran-Del) who has special empathic abilities that will help his daughter survive especially if something happens to Stefan.Ran-Del's clan is all about family and continuing the family line. But the shaman (his great grandfather) seems to have that handled even if he must give up his family's youngest male in the line, Ran-Del.
So the question becomes can larceny and destiny lead to true love? There is certainly a lot to love about these two potential lovers.
There's a whole lot of interesting world-building as we learn both about the city people and the Sansoussy people along with the estranged couple as they each try to cope within the others world. At some point midst the alternating kidnappings the reluctant couple find themselves being thrust into a sort of arranged deranged engagement.
Carmen Webster Buxton has a style of writing that is easy flowing and if there are any sentence structure problems they somehow got past me as I whipped through the pages. I did find a few problems of missing words, but over all I'd say less than a handful of nitpicks, although for those sensitive to those issues you may see a few.
This is good SFF Young Adult Romance Adventure and though usually the kidnap/love stories make me cringe because of the improbability of seriously falling in love with your kidnapper, this one at least balances the tables on the players and manages to deliver some good character interaction.
View all my reviews
(review of free book)
on March 15, 2013 :
Unlike some stories that culture clash as a motif, this novel both features action by characters from each culture in both cultures and portrays neither culture as ultimately lesser to the other.
The book tells the story of Ran-Del Jahanpur, a warrior from a forest tribe that focus on mental discipline and aim to live in tune with nature. He is kidnapped by Baron Hayden, a noble from a technologically advanced city, who keeps him prisoner, but otherwise treats him as an honoured guest. Despite the empathy granted by his training, Ran-Del struggles to understand both the Baron's plans and the society that holds him.
With a plot that moves back and forth between the forest and the city, the novel skilfully balances the benefits and disadvantages of psychic and technological solutions and the cultures that have grown up around them.
I found Ran-Del to be a well-developed character. His social and moral choices are sometimes better and sometimes worse than others, making him neither the noble savage or the uncultured rural. He also displays an entirely believable assumption that, having grown up feeling if people are lying himself, everyone will know that he is telling the truth if he denies wrongdoing.
The other main characters have similar depth, each displaying a personal reaction to the facets of other culture that they meet. This complexity of response makes both the growing friendships and fledgling rivalries more meaningful and the sudden elevation of a minor character to significance more believable.
The speed and ease with which Ran-Del became able to function in the city seemed unrealistically fast. However this is mostly due to the elision of the repeated little conflicts that is common to most stories dealing with potential integration into an alien culture, and is preferable to too much exposition of the differences.
(review of free book)
on Nov. 13, 2012 :
Although the premise of the book is far from unique, the writing is excellent and the story is well told. The characters are interesting and well-developed, and the growth from tolerance to love is well done.
The planet is divided into 3 civilizations, each vastly different from the other even though they have a common origin. The story centers on the "arranged" marriage involving 2 of the civilizations; the third civiliation is only passingly mentioned. The story requires you to accept that 3 such unique civilizations can coexist yet know so little about the others. However, the story is written well-enough that this is a very minor irritant.
Unlike many books, this one had very few errors. When I finally got around to reading it, finished the book in 1 day. I plan to next read the sequel, No Safe Haven.
(review of free book)
Sift Book Reviews
on July 25, 2011 :
Though I believe this story could have been spectacular, I believe even more so that it was not brought to it's full potential. I liked the idea behind the story, and parts of the book were exciting at times. But because of the long lulls in the plot, and the bouts of poor sentence structure, I can't say that I enjoyed the story thoroughly enough to want to continue in that world and read the next book.
See the entire review at Sift: http://www.siftreviews.com/2011/06/sixth-discipline-by-carmen-webster.html
(reviewed 78 days after purchase)
on July 23, 2011 :
Very good book. I enjoyed getting to know the characters the differences in their cultures was a common enough line but the writer added some twists that made the characters unique.
(reviewed 77 days after purchase)