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Review: Legends of the Red Sun Book 3 – The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton

I’ve been a fan of Mark’s work since I read the first chapter of Nights of Villjamur. That book was something special (my review here), and Book 2 in the Legends of the Red Sun, City of Ruin, was even better. So when I started reading Book 3 I was pretty confident that Mark wasn’t going to disappoint – after all, being two books into a series should mean that the storyteller is more confident and at ease. I’m happy to report that The Book of Transformations didn’t disappoint. 🙂

This third book in the series is an epic – major things happen, major and far-reaching events, even though most of the characters we’ve met in the first two books aren’t to be seen. The setting for this book is, for the most part, Villjamur itself, though there are chapters that venture further out to continue the story of a group of characters that stepped into the unknown in the first book.

Character-wise, Mark really had fun in this book. We’ve got a detective-kind of guy, who’s investigations put him firmly in the sights of the Emperor; a group of outcasts who are brought together to create something that the citizenry of the city can look up to, and an old man who has spent a long time traveling to Villjamur, in search of a very important artifact – The Book of Transformations.

You may recall that Books 1 and 2 also had a detective-kind of character in the main cast – it’s a difficult thing to pull off, having an investigator picking up clues and interviewing people as he’s investigating a case, especially in a Fantasy novel. I think it must be difficult to keep to that tightrope, to be able to balance the needs of the story against the characters, but Mark once again pulled it off – this investigator isn’t a carbon-copy of the man from Books 1 and 2, and as the novel progresses he grows into the kind of character that becomes the anchor, if you will – the island of normality in the strangeness. I think many readers will enjoy his story and the chapters that he features in, because there’s a definite sense of ‘impending doom’ dogging him, but he’s such a likeable character that I found myself cheering him on, despite knowing more than he did about the forces he was arrayed against (up to a certain degree, I must add). He also ends up taking a very important dual-role in the novel, and I hope that the final book in the series, The Broken Isles, explores the fallout of these dual roles a bit more, especially in light of what happens at the end of this novel.

The group of outcasts had me worried before I began reading the novel – a little birdie told me just what ‘kind’ of group this would be and though I was excited to read how they would be integrated into a Fantasy setting I was worried that it would fall flat. One of the characters seems to be a homage to a very famous axe-man in Fantasy, and Mark uses him to explore the consequences of being a hero; I really liked this guy even though, if I consider the situation he was pulled from, he had the least to lose. He brought a sense of melancholy to the novel, but also a different kind of emotional intensity versus the others in his group. Even though he had the least to lose, it turns out that he had the most to lose – he’s the kind of character that most people sympathies will go to and I really enjoyed his tale.

The female of the group – well now, if you’ve read Mark’s previous Legends of the Re3d Sun novels you’ll know that Mark doesn’t shy away from the kinds of subjects that usually aren’t present in Fantasy, or even Science Fiction. SPOILER WARNING. For example, one of the main protagonists from Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin is a gay man, and I found Mark’s exploration of this character to be honest, unflinching and respectful – you know, the kind of portrayal any character should enjoy. Mark didn’t do anything special with this character – he just let him live out his tale in his world. It wasn’t always a happy tale and this guy had to face many obstacles and problems, but doesn’t every character in Fiction? What I’m trying to say is that it must be difficult to not place too much emphasis on a character who isn’t the mead-and-wench kind of man, but Mark not only pulled it off in Books 1 and 2 but also here, with this female character. She’s a practical, thinking and feeling being who is just trying to survive, and she finds herself in a situation where she can make something of herself and prove to herself that everyone has been wrong about her. But that same situation affords her the capability to exact some retribution for everything she’s been through – this constant struggle and the search for herself through it all made her a compelling character and a great ‘voice’ for everything that was occurred in Viljamur, the city in which the novel’s events take place.

The third member of the group, though, doesn’t get as tight a focus as his companions, yet his motivations still ring out, making the group three individuals instead of two memorable characters and one side-kick, which could easily have happened. I liked how this character’s point-of-view and motivations not only clashed with those of his companions but also forced them to look at themselves and their situations differently.

The plot of the book is, as I mentioned earlier, epic – the previous problems in the first two novels, that of refugees seeking shelter from the coming Ice Age, reach a boiling point of sorts when citizens within the city start working against what the Emperor wants, which then leads to the kind of crackdowns that channels such as CNN, BBC and Sky News have acquainted us too well with. Also, a character who has gone in search of something greater than himself has found it, and when he returns to Villjamur, the consequences are –among other things- shattering.

The novel’s title is perfectly apt, as practically everyone in the tale is forced to change, and not only them, but the Empire they’ve lived in. Plus, there is a literal meaning to the title in the novel. 😉

This was a tense, exciting novel, standing strongly alongside the first two in the series, and I’m excitedly looking forward to seeing where everything leads in The Broken Isles. 🙂 Highly recommended!

9 / 10

To order your copies of The Book of Transformations, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And do check out Mark’s website here.

The novels in the series have all received updated covers (which I love) and here they all are – you know, so that you can spot them easily when you’re browsing. 🙂

The Broken Isles is already available, will get stuck in as soon as I get my copy. 🙂

Until next time,
Be EPIC!

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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun – Character Interviews

Some of you will remember that I did some character interviews with Mark Charan Newton a while back. This was born from me wanting to interview Mark about his work (Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin) but also wanting to do something new and fresh; I asked Mark how he felt about me sending him questions for some of the characters in the novels and he liked the idea, so we went ahead and came up with some very cool interviews. 🙂

With Mark’s second Legends of the Red Dun novel, City of Ruin, on the threshold of official publication in the UK, and with Nights of Villjamur’s US publication date appraoching, too, I’m going to be re-posting the reviews of Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, as well as the interviews I’ve conducted with the characters in the novels.

Here’s what you can look forward to, and when:

On Monday the 31st of May (being tomorrow), you’ll be able to read the interview I did with Randur Estevu,

On the first of June it’ll be Investigator Rumex Jeryd‘s turn,

and on the second of June, Night Guard Commander Brynd Lathraea Adaol.

On the 3rd of June I’ll re-post my review of Nights of Villjamur, and on the 4th, my review of City of Ruin. 🙂

June the 4th is the big pub-date for City of Ruin in the UK, and the paperback edition of Nights of Villjamur will also go on sale on the 4th. Mark officially enters the US on the 29th of June with Nights of Villjamur.

Here are the covers you can look forward to seeing on the shelves:

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (UK paperback edition):

Book Two of the Legends of the Red Sun – City of Ruin (UK hardcover edition)

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (US hardcover edition):

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the US embraces Mark’s work – I’m pretty sure that he’ll be making a huge splash over there!

Be back here tomorrow for the first interview!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2010 in Announcements

 

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The Other Lands & Nights of Villjamur

Just a very quick post to let you all know (for those who don’t already know) about some very cool news:

First of all, Gav over at Nextread has posted a very cool interview with Mark Charan Newton! Mark even drops some hints about the sequel to Nights of Villjamur! 🙂

And David Anthony Durham shows off galley-proofs of the eagerly-awaited sequel to Acacia, The Other Lands! 🙂 Guess you all know me too well – I definitely want me one of those! 🙂

Anyway, next post will be an excerpt of Kaaron Warren’s Slights! 🙂 Keep an eye on your RSS feeds, it’ll be up soon. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2009 in Announcements

 

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Mark Charan Newton Rocks!

All I can say is, thank you Mark! 🙂 You’ve made a blogger thousands of kilometers away feel as if he was there at the Forbidden Planet signing, and I can’t thank you enough! 🙂

Mark Loves my Blog

And thanks to Liz de Jager from My Favourite Books, for being such an awesome blogger and friend! 🙂 Don’t have a clue how you arranged this, Liz, but you, too, rock! 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2009 in Announcements

 

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