Your feelings - your ability to have an internal dialogue and make decisions based on your feelings , is a sacrosanct thing. Or at least in OUR world it is. Not so in the world created by D Wallace Peach in Catling's Bane where people's very emotions can be influenced by magic. Can be, and frequently are.
Catling's Bane follows the life of Catling, a child of the warrens born with a difference; the ability to shield herself and others from the magic of influencers. In a world where the powerful and wealthy create and enforce law, and influencers hold even the mighty in their clutches, Catling's gift is both to be desired and feared. For varied reasons, folk take Catling under their wings but he soon finds out not all of them have her best interests - or the world's - at heart.
Catling's Bane is a thought-provoking book, set in a rich fantasy world where the rules are very different to our own. I enjoyed reading Catling's plight as she was pulled here and there and shamelessly used by others for their own good, or their perceived notions of the greater good. I loved the concept of influencing someone and enjoyed seeing how such an immense power was wielded. Peach wrote some wonderful characters who have an incredible sense of depth to them; there were very few who could be painted as 'good' or 'bad'. Rather they were much more complex and flawed as real people should be.
I enjoyed Catling's Bane and am keen to see where her continuing journey takes her. I recommend this book to fantasy lovers, adventure seekers and those who enjoy a magically crafted world where the impossible is possible.
What an engaging tale this is. It says a lot for the quality of the writing and the compelling nature of the story that I continued to read this despite some pretty difficult issues in my online/working life at the time! I'm a reader who loves books where characters drive story. Plot driven books generally leave me cold. This novel has a cast of players that are easy to empathise with; even the villains. They are drawn in fascinating detail with all their flaws and all their glories to make them real people who are easy to engage with throughout the story. The book has been well edited and is presented in a professional manner; important points in these times when there are so many books from which to choose. In spite of the sometimes tough scenes, it's also a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. D. Wallace Peach introduces some thought-provoking and timely themes here. The story examines injustice, wealth inequality, gender discrimination, political intrigue, the fallibility of leaders, ethics and morality, and the ever-present problems of prejudice driven by ignorance. Set on a world seemingly established many centuries previously by Earth travellers colonising space, the various locations are drawn with exquisite detail that brings each to life. In the swamps, the reader drowns in the excess moisture along with the unfortunate inhabitants. In the warrens under the city, we live vicariously the lives of the old, infirm, underprivileged, optimistic, entrepreneurial, con-artists, thieves, opportunists and all those other characters who are required to inhabit such places. In the tiers of the cities, we experience the growing opulence as we rise from level to level until we reach the pinnacle where the ultra-privileged live their lives of luxury and intrigue. This is a work of great imagination, brilliantly realised and translated to the page in a way that rarely causes the reader to grow aware of the writing style that has led here. The story flows so naturally that we are allowed to rove through the world in the company of our various narrators without being pitched from that imaginary place by inappropriate or irrelevant information. Some of what happens is unexplained, and that is a good thing; it raises questions and allows us to speculate. When an explanation is essential to understanding, it comes in context and without that dreaded info-dump so common in some books in the genre. There is adventure here, along with death, love, betrayal, courage, cheating, bullying, affection, humour and all those emotions that make a work of fiction more than merely a story. This is the first book in a projected series and I'll be looking out for the next title. The writing is wonderfully evocative and the story absorbing.