Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New This Week: Ison of the Isles by Carolyn Ives Gilman

In 2011, I was captivated by Carolyn Ives Gilman’s introduction to the Forsaken Isles. While choosing the book as one of my top reads of the year, I said that “Isles of the Forsaken is not one of those works of fantasy that you just fall into. Like some of the very best of the genre, you really have to work at it for a while to discover the richness. It’s a whole new world, after all. One with four races and a lot of strife and conflict. An imperial technocracy is pushing out an ancient culture and author Carolyn Ives Gilman captures the nuances of this conflict perfectly.”

In many ways -- and as appropriate -- the author’s follow-up to that novel, Ison of the Isles (CZP) is exactly like that. Only different.

This time out, the politics are more developed and the the machinations are deeply in play. Revolution has broken out in the Forsaken Isles and the islanders have risen up in one disjointed whole in order to drive away the Inning Empire. However they know they will never present a united front until they have an Ison to lead them: something that is easier said than done.

Like the first book, Ison of the Isles is not the sort of SF/F you fall into quickly and follow easily. Like the best of the genre, you spend some time orienting yourself in a world so complete, it's easy to get lost. As a result, if you’re looking for an easy read, you might do better to keep looking. If, however, you’re ready to be fully carried away, Ison of the Isles is a good choice. Ives Gilman builds her world with a muscular poise that is so graceful and authoritative, it seems easy in its confidence. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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