As promised, I'm reviewing as soon as I've read this book. Nearly took it back to the library unread--I'd grabbed it last minute off the shelf and wasn't totally convinced. It was certainly worth reading. Not the best piece of fantasy I've ever read, but certainly a decent enough one. I was about to say it was good enough that I'll keep an eye out for others, but there are none. Just waiting for the author's website to load so I can see if there's anything in the pipeline.
Any rate, it was fantasy, but I would probably call it more of a pirate story than a dragon and magic sort of fantasy. (Hmm, the author's website would appear to be a blank white page...). Kes is a pirate with a secret. (Oh, it's come up now, and it seems there's only short stories other than Mad Kestrel, which is a shame. I don't really like short stories.) Anyway. Kes ran away to sea, to avoid being imprisoned and forced to work for the Danisoba, because she can use magic. And she's safe at sea, because most Danisoba--all, in fact--are severely weakened by water. Kes has never had that problem. Just an interesting note, I wonder what the magicians are supposed to drink if they can't go near liquid... Anyway, it's a reasonable tale. Her captain isn't who she thought he was, gets himself captured, there's a magic plant which offers fifty years without ageing, and a good deal of swashbuckling adventure. So if you're into pirates, Mad Kestrel is certainly worth looking into. It certainly kept my interest, and there were a couple of nice twists to the plot. If you happen to see it, most definitely worth a read. If not, well, it's probably not worth going to a great deal of trouble looking for. A good book, but more of an adventure story with a bit of magic thrown in than a 'proper' fantasy (then again, who am I to talk about proper fantasy, when the angels in my stories tend to go on missions on earth and most don't have magical powers???). At any rate, if you're into pirate stories, I can recommend this one. If you're more of a 'proper' fantasy fan, well, the magic didn't seem terribly thought through in how it all worked, although it was interesting to have it summoned by whistling/humming/singing. It was the whole water thing that got me--I once had a similar idea as a weakness for a dragon-like species, but realised that they would then dehydrate and die, and that rain would destroy them. Oh, I suppose they can hide inside, but it doesn't seem a great flaw to give a magician. Anyway, Kes didn't suffer from it, for reasons that were disclosed late in the book so I won't tell you why.
On a slightly different aside, why is it that books tend to focus on magic users who have a more than usual skill or a quirk that lets them use magic in a way that other people can't? Anyone know of any fantasy that focusses on someone who can't use magic all that well but isn't a satirical poke at some other book?
Any rate, Mad Kestrel was worth the time it took to read it, and was certainly enjoyable even if not the greatest thing I've ever read. But then, if every book was the greatest thing I'd ever read, then none of them would be...