So I decided I needed to read more, and this is the perfect way to get back into reading like I used to. So this is my challenge: read a book a day. No matter how long it is, no matter how busy or sick I am. I will read the book and then review it here. I invite you on this journey with me, and hope that I inspire you to read a bit more, even if you are not inspired to read the books I am reading.
Today I read a book called The Charmed Sphere by Catherine Asaro. I have read a few other books by Asaro, and I have to say I love her writing. She is a fantastic world builder; she plucks me up and drops me right into the stories.
The Charmed Sphere is the story of Chime, a farmer’s daughter who has an extraordinary mage gift. Her gift means that she will marry the reluctant Prince: Muller. When a neighboring kingdom and an insane mage seek to conquer Aronsdale, Chime, Muller, and two other mages (whom I cannot mention for spoiler purposes) must work together to save Aronsdale.
First off, I would like to point out that this is a fantasy romance novel. I do love fantasy romances, but I have found that they often suffer from poor relationship development. Asaro, unfortunately is no exception. Her first couple’s relationship, that of Chime and Muller, is developed relatively well. They learn more about each other and slowly fall in love.
I’m sorry…What? Dear Catherine Asaro, sex cannot cure being blind, deaf, or mute. Not even in a fantasy world. Sorry, no.
Now on to what I liked about the book. I loved the magic system she created based on geography and colors. The concept is that a mage’s power level is determined by what shapes they can use to cast spells. The more sides, the more powerful the spell, and thus the mage. Colors also come into play. Each color of the rainbow has a different use, but not all mages can use all colors. The higher up on the color wheel, the more powerful the mage. I also appreciated that the strength of the mage also played into the spells. Often Chime would overextend her abilities trying to help someone and would end up with blazing headaches.
I also enjoyed her development of one of the antagonists. Often in fantasy the antagonists are evil just for the enjoyment of being evil. While this may be true of the power-hungry king of the invading kingdom, it is not true of the evil mage who is helping the power-hungry king. Anvil the Forged (terrible name, but he gave it to himself, so what can you do?) has an interesting back story that helps to explain why he has no emotional remorse for betraying his people and desiring to see them all destroyed.
The Charmed Spheres is a wonderful mix of action, love, magic, and suspense. Her writing, as always, captivated me. I read the book in three hours without putting it down. Although there are a few plot points that could have been improved with a better editor, I still give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.