Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Bridge of Souls

by Fiona McIntosh

cover  

At the start of Bridge of Souls Wyl feels doomed, backed into a corner by his magical gift. And in some ways Fiona McIntosh has written herself into a corner, because at this point we know that Wyl can only escape his predicament through death. He is desperate to prevent the marriage of Valentyna and Celimus, his enemy, but the task seems impossible in his current guise.

And this new form causes Wyl plenty of embarrassment and discomfort as he wonders whether he will ever be able to behave as himself again.

The action takes place across three kingdoms, all of which are threatened with war by the capricious acts and imperial ambitions of King Celimus. Celimus is not the only one whose dreams of power will endanger the people of Morgravia, Briavel and The Razors, however. The magic user Rashlyn, a shady Rasputin-like character, is even trying to control the animal kingdom whilst remaining the true power behind the Mountain King's throne.

Fynch, the former gong boy who has moved up in the world to become a confidant of the Queen, really begins to realise his potential in Bridge of Souls. It's a matter of Destiny and magical awakening for the young man. Unfortunately almost scene involving Fynch has the flavour of a Disney cartoon fairytale, full of unicorns and benevolent woodland creatures. Once the talking king dragon enters the scene, it's clear McIntosh wouldn't know Nauseating Kitsch if it threw up on her shoes. The boy doesn't react to events remotely like a real human being would. Fynch seems to be devoid of scepticism, fear and defiance. His motivation makes no sense, and there's a mawkishness about all of the events he is involved in throughout this novel.

Yet just because there are overly sentimental episodes doesn't mean that this is a soft book that's suitable for children. On the contrary, it's positively vicious. People die violently and often, by sword or poison, victims are transformed by dark magic, and slave women fight to the death. It's hard to read this book without feeling like a voyeur at an execution as one distasteful act after another takes place.

Bridge of Souls is a suspenseful novel and momentum builds throughout as Wyl and his friends struggle for survival. But it's hard to care about the characters since there's such a high level of violence and exaggeration that everything loses impact. The content is too violent to be suitable for children, yet too shallow and melodramatic for the tastes of most adults. It's a disappointing end to the trilogy.

Book Details

Year: 2004

Categories: Books

  Fantasy
 

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

More about Fiona McIntosh