Well. After the disappointment that was Viscount Vagabond and The Devil’s Delilah by Loretta Chase, I decided to take a step away from romance and read a straight fantasy (albeit, reportedly one with a character romance). The fantasy book I made the mistake of picking was A Magic Of Twilight – my husband has the first two books and enjoyed them enough that the third is on his buy list. I’ll admit that out tastes don’t always match, but often they do in epic fantasy.
Boy, did I pick the wrong book to try.
A Magic Of Twilight (not to be confused with sparkly vampires) is the first book in S. L. Farrell’s Nessantico Cycle. I suppose that the series’ name should have been the first clue of what I was in for. The second should have been that the cover quote was from George R. R. Martin.
The book opens with what is no doubt intended to be an enticing insight into the world of Nessantico, but the plethora of pseudo-Italian for names, terms, everything had me frustrated before the end of the first page. Don’t get me wrong – I like fantasy languages when used tastefully and moderately, to add flavour and realism to a world.
This was neither tasteful nor moderate, and I don’t know how realistic it made the world when I spent more time trying to figure out how to pronounce the names in my head than I did actually reading the English words. In case you think I jest, some samples:
She’d listened to the teni thundering their admonitions from the High Lectern enough to realise that. U’Teni cu’Dosteau, the Instruttorei a’Acoyte, was just as blunt and direct: “A teni does not thwart Cenzi’s Will unpunished…”
At the front of the room, the Sun Throne gleamed beneath the Kraljica Marguerite ca’Ludovici, the ruler of Nessantico and the Holdings, the great Genera a’Pace, the Wielder of the Iron Staff, the Matarh a’Dominion…
I was honestly confused after the first few pages whether there was supposed to be an omg!shocking incest/molestation reference, a la Game of Thrones, or not; no reference is provided for the relationship outside of the pseudo-Latinate, and no age approximation is provided for two of the three characters that appear in that first scene. Possibly there was for the third, but she was comatose, and not involved in the sexual reference.
I was willing to give the first section the benefit of the doubt, in case the author was attempting an immersive scene to catch the reader’s attention and would back off and provide some context after that, but no. In fact, it seemed to get worse as I progressed through the first chapter, and a switch in view-point every few pages only frustrated me further.
I couldn’t get any further. This book completely failed to capture my interest, and trying to keep the ridiculous terms straight gave me a headache, and I didn’t even get that far in the book!
This is definitely a Will Not Finish. Would not recommend to anyone, unless they’re looking for a penance and the thought of a hair shirt is too mild.