“Goddess-Born” is the second book in Brian Rush‘s Tale of Two Worlds series. Though the book can be read without having read “The Green Stone Tower”, I would recommend picking it up as it certainly will make reading “Goddess-Born” a little easier to read.
First let me say that I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. I found the first couple of chapters trying but the story picked up in pace and intensity shortly afterwards. I know people who say that they give a book ten pages for a book to grab their attention before they give up. I’m the type of reader who always finishes a book once started.
I’m reminded of when I read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. I found it extremely dull and decided to skip a couple of the first chapters. What I found was a wonderfully engaging and whimsical story that was a nice escape from the mundane reality of my everyday life. This was much my same experience with Goddess-Born. What I found in the remaining pages was an intriguing and engaging story that at times showed hints of greatness.
But make no mistake, this is not a children’s story.
The system of magic employed in this setting lends itself well to the story. I notice a lot of authors tend to go to great lengths to explain how magic works in their setting. I often feel that in a way this breaks the fourth wall by reminding the reader that they are in fact reading a book.
Brian Rush, however, does not fall into this trap. He explains only enough to give the reader a quick understanding of it. In doing this he succeeds in leaving magic mysterious and well….magical. Unless the author is attempting an in-depth treatise on the mechanics of magic, as David Eddings does in the “Belgariad” and “Mallorean”, I always find it is best for the author to leave the actual details of magic up to the reader.
The writings of the character eventually known as Madame Foresight offer some of the most thought-provoking of the series (and definitely can be reflected in our own modern society). Some of the best lines come her insights on the rule of the people in her pamphlet “Wisdom.” On choosing a leader:
“If they are lucky, he proves to be a visionary who does great good. If they are unlucky (and this is more common and likely), their lives become a nightmare for a time.”
On the wisdom of people:
“If the people should become wise, they would follow a wise leader. But no generation has ever been wise.”
Once the revolution begins, the book takes the reader on a journey to social and political revolution starting from the very bowels of a movement. Brian Rush does not shy away from the good and bad characteristics of all parties involved. His rebels invoke both sympathy and outrage in the reader. His aristocracy does not necessarily invoke hatred from the reader and instead sit in a grey murkiness of inaction. The reader wants the revolution to succeed but not necessarily because of anything the nobles have done directly. Instead, the reader wants to see the people rise up and take control of their destiny rather than be pawns to the fate they were born to.
One of the areas that I found the author failed was in his portrayal of the romantic interaction between the characters. At times they were strained or seemed forced. I think the book would benefit from cutting back on some of the romantic interludes and focusing instead on increasing the flow and structure of the ones that remain.
On the whole, I found this read pretty good. Sure there were things that didn’t jive for me at times (like an excess of characters) but they only marginally affected my enjoyment of the story. Once the tale took hold of me, it carried me on the shoulders of its revolution and didn’t release me until the mob had subsided. It is one good edit away from a truly great story.