November was a busy month. I left on the 4th for Blizzcon, held in Anaheim, California, and didn’t get back until the 13th. Thanksgiving was always a busy time, along with having family come down the weekend after. And, since I haul refigerated freight, October through December is always super busy delivering to grocery stores.
As a result, I only managed 2 books in November: Convergence by Sharon Green, and A Matter of Honor by Sally Malcom. Both were for other swaps on Swap Bot.
In the world of this series, everyone has a talent with an element: earth, air, fire, water, or spirit (emotions). The talents are classified into 3 strengths, low, middle, and high. If you happen to have a middle or higher talent, you’re sent to Gam Garee to be tested to see if you’re a high level talent. It’s pretty uncommon to have more than a low talent, so not a lot of people go.
Those that do go and are tested, are put through a series of tests and competitions to see who’s the strongest. The strongest are given positions within the city. Every 25 years, new rulers are chosen. The ruling group is a Blending, a group of 5 people, one of each talent, that rule together for 25 years. It just so happens that the year this book takes place is a Blending year, and a year of the prophecy. The prophecy states that 5 people will come from all over the land to create a Blending that will be stronger than any other. This Blending will overcome the Evil 4, and restore balance to the force. Or something like that.
So, this book follows the 5 chosen ones as they get selected, travel to Gam Garee, and start the journey to the throne. And, I’m not even spoiling the book! It tells you, in the first couple pages, that they’re the ruling Blending, and this is their story.
In the end, it boils down to this: Person with Talent is waiting to take the coach/report for testing when a giant fireball shows up. Using their talent, they defeat said fireball. They also have an altercation with someone, for the sake of ease, we’ll say family member. They get to testing in Gam Garee, they go through the test, which nearly kills them, and they’re assigned to the same house. They go to the house, decide to take a bath, and intrude, or are intruded on, by another of the Blending. Words are exchanged, passions ignited, and then the Person goes up to their room to await dinner.
Repeat this 5 times. No, really. There’s a section for each of these people. Now, to be fair, that previous paragraph is actually split into 2 sections, so you’re 10 chapters in by the time everyone meets for dinner. There, they meet 3 other people who are only tangentially related to the story, and there to cause dissension. The next day, they’re fitted for outfits, so they all look the same, and the book spares us 5 more chapters, and instead gives us 2: one from the women’s point of view, one from the men’s.
This is more or less how the book goes. There’s the repeating of how everyone went through their testing, although, thankfully, a couple people are skipped, but it’s still like 6 chapters. At the end of the book, when they’re going on to the second stage of testing, we get each one’s interaction with an adept, and their particular tests, for all 5.
In between, there’s a lot of tea being drank. Lots of it. Each member of the Blending has interference from the “family” they have, at least once, although a couple are set up to be orccuring problems. They speculate on them realizing they’ve never met a high ranked talent before, and them wondering where highs go when they’re done. They start to realize something’s fishy almost immediately. And, there’s love interests: instant attraction between fire and water, as well as earth and spirit, and the air user finds a prostitute he’s smitten with. Insta love, insta attraction, and lots of hurdles to jump before it will be happen. Repeatedly.
There’s also things from the prophecy, although it’s not exactly mentioned. You put it together pretty fast. The fireball is one, there’s a raincloude that shows up, and later on, each member of the Blending gets something they need badly, made of air. One’s a workout set, one’s a hammock, one’s a hiding place, another a swing, and I forget what the last one gets.
When we’re not focusing on the Blending and their goins on, ad naseum, we also get a few pages on the evil people in the book. I’d say villians, but they’re like punch clock villians. They scheme, then they leave and do other things. They’re trying to set up Blendings that are flawed, so that the winning Blending is a group from the nobility. They’re also trying to find if any of the people spoken of in the prophecy are in town, in case it’s true. They’re not really the big bad of the series, those people come later, they’re just the ones to make you go “oh no!” and tide you over.
The best review I can give of this book is it’s boring. It’s really the same story, told 5 different ways. The characters aren’t characters, they’re tropes come directly from TV Tropes. The fire user can lose her temper, like you’d expect someone how headed to be. She’s also a widow, coming from a bad marriage where her husband abused her. She of course can’t think that men and women can really be in love, or have sex that’s not terrible. The spirit user is a courtesan who’s used her gift to hide her feelings and to encourage patrons to not be rough or or mean with her. She’s a hooker with a heart of gold.
A Matter of Honor takes place 5 years after the black hole incident in season 2 of Stargate SG-1, called A Matter of Time. SG-1 is on the planet Kinahhi, waiting for someone to broker a treaty. While there, they find out that the planet was once in the domain of the Goa’uld Ba’al, and that Kinahhins have some kind of anti-gravity technology that came from Ba’al. O’Neill is still hung up over the death of Henry Boyd and the rest of his SG team on the black hole planet. He manages to convince Carter that by using that technology, they can rescue Boyd and his team.
Hijinks ensue, people get hurt, but they get the plans for the anti-grav device. They get back to Stargate Command, and Carter spends a couple weeks creating the device. However, between her and Dr Jackson, they learn that this is only half of what is needed to make the device go. The other half is most likely on the planet Ba’al stronghold was located on, where Colonel O’Neill was tortured. So they plan on how to get there, and go. We’re stuck in O’Neill’s head most of the trip, and then things go haywire. Carter gets captured, there are more Jaffa than expected, they encounter problems, but in the end SG-1 is triumphant, and they get the other half of the thing that’s needed to rescue Henry Boyd’s team.
Then the book ends.
I was like, WTF? I was expecting them to actually complete the rescue, not draw out how they get the parts. Seriously, I was so disappointed when I found out they didn’t actually do the rescue. It’s not like I wasted a lot of time reading it, it took maybe 3 hours, but I was so disappointed. We spend most of the book with the characters getting into and out of trouble like they’re so good at, and we get all these angsty moments from O’Neill, other Boyd’s being stuck on the planet, and from his torture by Ba’al. After a while, it gets old. It’s a lot of angst.
I was so disappointed in the book. I expected so much more, and it was average at best. It felt like a bait and switch to me. I expected them to save Boyd’s team, not drag it out into two novels.