16 September 2007

Book Review: The Shape-Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn

R.I.P. II Challenge #1

The Shape-Changer’s Wife Aubrey’s great desire is to learn as much about the art of wizardry as he can. To that end, his teacher Cyril dispatches him to the famous shape-changer Glyrenden, to learn how to alter his form at will. But when Glyrenden finally returns to his dust-laden castle in the forest he seems disinclined to teach Aubrey much of anything, and frequently leaves him to his own devices while he travels the kingdom in the service of wealthy patrons. During these times, he is left alone save for his master’s strange servants and equally odd wife. Lilith puzzles him: she obviously dislikes her adoring husband, speaks little, barely eats, never shows any sign of emotion and is petrified of fire. She is not like other women and is strangely insistent on this fact. Long after he has given up on being taught what he wants to know, and joined the other residents in dreading Glyrenden’s return, Aubrey stays that he might work out why she is so different to anyone else, and why she will not leave. For Aubrey is in love with the wife of another man - of a powerful wizard he knows will crush him if given half a chance.

It’s a shame I have so much else to do and read, otherwise I’d be tempted to read this again before returning it to the library. Once Lilith’s secret was revealed a lot of things made sense, and I’m sure there were more clues which I overlooked. The whole thing carried the air of an ancient legend, from the setting at some indeterminate time in the past in an unspecified location to the epilogue giving the alternate theories of what had happened afterwards. At first I thought it was some version of England, since Aubrey’s former master resided at a place called Southport; but further geographical references dispelled that notion. Aubrey was a great characters; it was refreshing to meet a wizard and scholar who didn’t live for dusty tomes and magical experiments, but loved getting about and socialising. I also liked the way he didn’t wait around for the answers to be provided by other people, but actively went out to try things for himself. Although he is initially enthralled by Glyrenden, it doesn’t take him long to share the dislike of him held by the other members of the household. The faintly gothic atmosphere made it perfect for the R.I.P. 2 challenge, just as I’d hoped; even the setting was perilous, with the constant threat of being entangled in ivy or suffocated by dust. (Made me feel much better about my own domestic skills - or lack thereof.)

There was only one problem with this book: I wanted more!

Rating: B+


Eva said...

This one sounds really good! I swear, sometimes it feels like the RIP challenge has single-handedly double my TBR list.

jenclair said...

I read this in the spring for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge and loved it!

Anonymous said...

This one's going straight on my wishlist!

Kathleen said...

This would also work for the new Reading a Wife challenge (or something like that.)

I tagged you for a book meme here.

Framed said...

Good review. It made me want to jump right into this book.

Amat Libris said...

Eva: Mine woud probably have doubled too, if I kept one other than a vague collection of menal notes. I really must write it down; but I'm afraid it would look too overwhelming!

Jenclair: I'll have to go and see what you wrote about it!

Heather: Definitely wish-list worthy.

Callista: I wonder if there's any type of book that hasn't formed the basis of a challenge?

Framed: Jump away; it's fabulous.

Stephanie said...

Oh...this one sounds really good!! Damn. I'm going to have to add it to my Mt. TBR!! This challenge is KILLING my reading pile! I just keep adding more and more books!!

Nikki in Niagara said...

This sounds fabulous! I'm adding to my tbr list right now.

Court said...

This book sounds really good. I'm going to have to add it to my TBR list!

Great review!

Anonymous said...

I fancy reading this at some point thanks. I have two of her other books waiting to be read when the final one in the series comes out next year and if I like them I will definately be reading more.

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