January 10, 2011
Review: "The Castings Trilogy" By Pamela Freeman
I just finished a novel over the holidays that I am really quite excited to tell you about. Some of you may know of the Australian author, Pamela Freeman, as it is my understanding that she is a fairly well known author of young-adult literature. Well, I just finished her first set of novels (I think) written for adult audiences. Frankly, I have to tell you that it is also completely age and subject appropriate for youth and teen readers as well. Okay, on with my review.
Ms. Freeman recently wrote a sequence of three books entitled, "The Castings Trilogy," and it is nothing short of brilliant! The three novels in the trilogy are titled, "Blood Ties," "Deep Water," and the third is "Full Circle." The titles are quite apt considering the subject and pace of each novel. I read a larger-sized omnibus edition published by Orbit (2010) at just under 1,400 pages in length. I have to tell you that I couldn't put it down; it was just riveting!
Firstly, these novels flow quite effortlessly and seamlessly from the first volume to the third. Ms. Freeman is an excellent writer with a very clean and crisp writing style that immediately pulls the reader deep into her tale. Somehow, to me, this book seemed particularly poignant and meaningful during our current times, with all of the hatred, prejudice, and violence that we currently endure around the world. While a superbly crafted work of fantasy fiction, with extraordinarily interesting characters, this is really a book about morality--what is right and what is wrong--and about what it means to be human, and what it means to be different, and how important it is to seek the means to bridge those differences. There are so many wonderful lessons about how to live a good and decent life in the characters Freemen has created.
As the father of adult daughters, I can't begin to tell you how very much I admired her development and utilization of several very strong female characters through the story-line. For example, her creation of the young Traveler woman 'Bramble' was sheer genius. I fell in love with this young, very tough-minded woman. Then she 'kicks it up a notch' with the characters of 'Martine' and 'Sorn.' These are women who interact through the course of the plot with other characters in such a fashion that they truly do become wonderful role models for all of us--male or female--in our day-to-day lives. They are full of strength, intelligence, courage, honor, integrity, and commitment. In fairness, many of her male characters exhibit many of these exemplary traits too; particularly 'Ash,' 'Leof,' 'Baluch,' and 'Acton.'
Another aspect of the novels that impressed me was Freeman's real talent in her creative utilization of a literary device that has the tale told through the use of multiple points-of-view, some as a voice from the past, and some from the perspective of the present. It is really a wonderful technique for providing back-story and key information in a very efficient fashion.
While I do not want to give away even a hint of the plot, suffice it to say that this is really the story of a struggle between two disparate groups of people in a world that is essentially dominated by one of the groups of peoples, at the expense of the other. It proceeds at a relentless pace that almost leaves the reader breathless for want of figuring out what is to become of the world of the Domains and these fascinating characters we've come to know and empathize with. I would very much recommend this book for a discussion in a book club as it brings up topics and issues that we all need to think about as citizens of our communities, countries, and the world as a whole. I wholeheartedly thank Ms. Freeman for giving us this thought-provoking series of novels. While highly entertaining, there's an important take-home message for each of us to ponder, discuss, and bring to bear in our own lives. I look forward to reading anything else this talented woman writes.
Finally, I will definitely read this novel again; it is a keeper! I happily assign 4.5/5.0 stars for this superbly crafted fantasy series, and very highly recommend it.