This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Carol Berg’s debut fantasy trilogy, The Rai-Kirah, is an ambitious series which combines a grimdark fantasy world which seems to actually give appropriate weight and seriousness to the abuses depicted in the text (and spreads the pain around neatly rather than, say, going after women disproportionately) with an evocative depiction of magic which involves searing occult battles unfolding within dimensions hidden within the human soul. Packaged in absolutely grotesquely bad CGI cover art, the various books in the series came up in a library bag sale some months back, so I snaffled the lot and took them home to line the Reading Canary’s cage with. The series was nominated for a few minor awards and the first book actually won the Geffen Award for best translated novel (apparently it reads really well in Hebrew), so maybe there’s fun to be had. But then again, the first book has themes of slavery and abuse and oppression and all sorts of other subjects which raise the possibility that it might just be a horrible, triggery mess that indulges in all the grimdark gritty fantasy subgenre’s worst habits.
Brief, spoiler free summary: the first book more or less gets it right, I couldn’t bring myself to care whether the second two did or not.