Science fiction and fantasy
Priestess of the White
by Trudi Canavan
As with Canavan's other novels, there are strong political threads running through Priestess of the White. This is rooted in a good understanding of human nature, so the various scenes of intrigue and deal-making ring true. Auraya rises through the Circlian priesthood to the position of one of the White, the god's chosen servants, early on in the book. Gifted with great powers that include immortality, there are only five of the White. Auraya is the last to be chosen.
The gods have instructed the White to seek out alliances with other peoples. So Auraya spends a lot of time in diplomatic negotiations, trying to unite the north. But war is coming. The southern Pentadrians are led by ruthless and powerful sorcerers, and they worship gods of their own. The Pentadrians believe that the Circlians are heathens whose gods are false. The sentiment is mutual.
This is a story with many strands. We follow the magically Gifted Emerahl as she struggles to hide from the Circlian priests. Then there is Tryss, a member of a winged race who are being invaded and killed by ordinary humans, or "landwalkers". We also learn about Leiard, whose mind is not his own and whose love threatens the safety of his people. Canavan brings all these separate threads together, expertly weaving them into an epic fantasy. Priestess of the White is a long novel that you can lose yourself in for hours and hours, and the detailed world-building and characterisation ensure that it never gets dull. The world of Age of the Five is different enough to avoid cliché, but not so weird that it becomes disorientating.
There are two main love stories. But their intensity is muted, as though Canavan is holding back the best of the romance for the rest of the trilogy. Nevertheless Priestess of the White includes all the right ingredients of a dependably good fantasy: mystery, intrigue, politics, and a frisson of romance. Add to this mix a satisfyingly complete ending that leads into the next book without driving you crazy with frustration and anticipation.
Canavan's storytelling just keeps getting better.
If you like this, try:Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers
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Review © Ros Jackson
More about Trudi Canavan
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