Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper
|Book Name:||Trinity Rising|
|Formatt:||Harcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Release Date:||July 26, 2012|
A year ago, I reviewed my first book for Fantasy-Faction. It was for Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper. It was one of my favorite books of 2011. Fast-paced and exciting, I summed up my review by suggesting readers, “Just buckle up and enjoy the ride.” So it was with some excitement I sat down to read Trinity Rising, the second in the (now) four part Wild Hunt series. And I discovered a very different book in so many ways.
It is a far more ambitious book than Songs. It is everything that is great about epic fantasy and, if I’m being honest, everything that is wrong with the genre too.
Cooper’s grown as a writer. Instead of being restricted to the tale of Gair and a very limited group of POV characters, Trinity Rising spans across an Empire, from the frozen north to the desert lands in the south and she juggles everything with skill, never losing the reader and filling the pages with tension. Such is her confidence, she doesn’t reintroduce Gair until almost half-way through the book. Instead, we get to know Teia, a young girl with the power to see the future. Life’s certainly not easy for Teia. The old Chief died in bed with her and now she’s ordered to become his son and heir’s lover. Trouble is he likes to smack her around when he’s not busy planning to become Chief of Chiefs of all the Northern clans in order to start a war with the Empire to regain his tribe’s lost lands. Matters aren’t helped that she’s seen the future and it all ends in blood and death for her clan if they proceed with the war. She thinks the only way to save her people is to warn the Empire of their plans.
When Gair does appear, he’s in mourning for his lover and is taking his frustrations out on everyone, especially his mentor, Alderan. Alderan forces Gair to join him on a trip south to an Arabesque land called Gimreal in search of a powerful weapon that could save the world. Gimreal is in a state of unrest as a cult of hard-line fundamentalists strikes out against foreigners and the Church. Our heroes are soon drawn into the conflict as they battle to save a group of nuns who gave them shelter in a storm.
So… Beautifully written. World-shaking conflict. An ever-growing cast of characters. An array of interesting cultures and a unique magic system. As I said, Trinity Rising is all that’s best in epic fantasy. I burned through the book in a few days despite its length and my limited free time. I was looking for excuses to read it; I was enjoying it that much.
But, for everything I loved about the book, my one big complaint is that nothing actually happens. Songs was very much a traditional tale – with a self-contained character arc (The Hero Discovered as Joseph Campbell describes it) excellently told. However, Trinity Rising is a case of someone moving chess pieces around on a board. We all know it’s going to end big in book four (and I have absolute faith in Cooper to deliver) but here we see the initial set up and not much else.
It’s a problem that so many authors struggle with – the most famous being George R. R. Martin – and, for me, a problem that always leaves a bit of a sour taste no matter how much I’ve enjoyed reading a book. At least we won’t have to wait seven years for the next installment but I just wish I wasn’t left hanging so much at the end. Tolkein’s great quote is, “the tale grew in the telling” however, as much as I love the worlds that Martin, Rothfuss and Cooper have created, I sometimes feel that they have fallen almost too much in love with it themselves as they explore it in ever greater detail. The tales wander with the characters leaving the reader frustratingly trudging along. I accept it as the standard of the genre but I increasingly don’t like it.
Part of me wishes that Cooper had kept the focus on Gair who, at least, I was already invested in rather than expand the scope of the series because we barely get to know everyone else. Also, due to the constraints of the size of the cast, Cooper reverts to short cuts to evoke sympathy or distaste for various characters, mainly by using sex. It seemed for the first part of the book all anyone did was have sex in not very pleasant ways. It turns out the bad guys are selfish and cruel lovers in the world of the Wild Hunt. I’m not a prude but, after awhile, I was a little disappointed that there weren’t other ways used to establish the characters. It all seemed a bit too cliché and I think Cooper is a better writer than that.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of Elspeth Cooper and I enjoyed Trinity Rising a lot. It’s a good book and I’ll be first in line to pick up book three next year. I just wish Trinity Rising had been the great book I was expecting.