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Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Most readers are probably familiar with Janny Wurts’ epic fantasy series THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW or the EMPIRE trilogy she wrote with Raymond E. Feist back in the ‘80s, but Wurts also wrote a few stand-alone fantasies, two of which have just been released in audio format.
Sorcerer’s Legacy, Wurts’ debut novel first published in 1981, is one of these. In some ways it feels like a 1981 high fantasy novel (e.g. the medieval setting) but, in the most important ways, it stands out. The story is about Elienne, the recently widowed and pregnant wife of the ruler of a conquered country. She’s been taken captive and awaits what’s certain to be a nasty fate when a wizard from another country saves her on the condition that she marries his endangered prince. She has no choice but to agree, of course, and off she goes to an unfamiliar land where she is alone and unloved and expected to marry a stranger while she grieves her lost husband. At this new court she discovers not only the political intrigue she expects, but also treachery, violence, torture, child abuse, and black magic. Elienne has no idea who she can trust and her only sure ally is the prince she’s supposed to marry.
How does Sorcerer’s Legacy stand out from so many of the other high fantasy novels published in the early ‘80s? First of all, it’s a stand-alone novel — hooray! (Though many readers will wish it was the first of a series.) It’s also got a terrific heroine. The setting is medieval, but Elienne doesn’t try to unrealistically bust out of her traditional gender role. She’s foul-mouthed, independently-minded, tough and opinionated, but Wurts doesn’t try to convince us that Elienne could whip ten men in a sword fight. Elienne’s feminine traits are actually her greatest strengths — she’s compassionate, protective, and loving.
The story is also fast-paced and the plot is almost completely unpredictable — two qualities that I don’t expect to find in a high fantasy novel written in 1982 but that I have come to expect from Janny Wurts after reading her excellent stand-alone To Ride Hell’s Chasm. Everything does not turn out well in the end — there is much loss and grief — but there is also beauty and hope.
The audio production of Sorcerer’s Legacy, produced by Audible, is wonderful. Narrator Emily Gray has a lovely voice and handles Wurts’ complicated sentences with ease. The book was a delight to listen to. Sorcerer’s Legacy is an impressive debut and the audio version does it justice.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Delightful! A fast moving, peril ridden journey for both a prince and his consort. Emily Gray is a wonderful narrator. I don't think I've listened to her before. I hadn't read this book before this audio edition was released. It was kind of hard to come by and it's only in paperback, used, and I cannot read the small print in paperbacks. So I was glad I could read this one. I think now that I've read all of Wurts' work.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Sorcerer's Legacy to be better than the print version?
Yes and No.
What did you like best about this story?
This is one of my all time favorite single books. I tend to read series, rather than stand alone novels. I admit I was a little nervous about listening to this audio nook, as I didn't want one of my favorite ruined by a poor narrator, but Emily Gray does a good job of telling this story, so a big thank you to her for that :-))
What does Emily Gray bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
I have read this book many times over the years (my original copy fell apart from frequent use, and had to be replaced), and of course my interpretation of the story differed slightly in places from Ms Gray's rendition, but over all I thought she brought a good sense of drama, and gave life to the various characters. I was a little surprised by her choice of voice for the character of Faisix. In my reading of the book, I had always imagined him to be smoothly menacing with a rich urbane voice, not the nasal tones that Ms Gray gave him.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
I have no idea.
Any additional comments?
As I have already said, this is one of my all time favorite stand alone books. I would love to listen to one of my other all time favorites, Restoree, by Anne McCaffrey, but unfortunately that book is not included in her list of available audio books. This story was well told by Emily Gray, and I was relieved that a beloved book was not ruined by a poor narrator, as some of my other favorites have been, most notably The Necromancer series by Gail Z Martin, another of my favorites.
Nice story but not all read which made it disappointing. Odd accents and wrong stresses on words.