Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 18, 2017
I felt a little guilty because I haven’t read The Smoke-Scented Girl, one of the first books by Melissa McShane. We even have a paperback copy! And here I am reading the next book in the series, The God-Touched Man. On the plus side, I can happily say that while I assume that some of the people and events mentioned in this book are chronicled in the previous one, I did not feel at all like I was missing the story. This book takes place in the same world some time later, but it’s a completely self-contained story.
The story takes place in a fantasy world with technology and culture approximately the level of the Victorian Era. Well, in part. Time travel is involved, so some of the characters end up in their own world’s more medieval past. Now, time travel is normally one of those things that’s only interesting from the perspective of our own world, because of the context in our own reality. McShane gets around this by making the novelty more of a cultural difference… essentially Victorian characters dealing with a medieval European culture (with magic thrown in on both sides). Otherwise, it’s just a plot device, and treated as such. The characters are cut off from their support mechanisms, and are propelled to see events through to get back to their own time… and once back, the story REALLY gets started.
The main character, Percy Feranter, is a charming rogue and a government agent. He’s not quite a 007 type… while he can more than hold his own in battle, he’s far more of a lover than a fighter. His counterpart and sometimes unwilling partner through his adventures is the dark-skinned and beautiful Ayane Caligwe, a former guerrilla fighter, and far more of a fighter than a lover. The two are not wizards, yet they get stuck up to their necks in trouble involving powerful wizards, gods, artifacts and places of power, time travel, relying upon their far more mundane skills to try and survive and complete their mission.
All-in-all, it’s a fun fantasy adventure. I like that it’s not trying to be an “epic fantasy” (as much as I enjoy that, too). It’s a straight-up adventure story in a non-traditional fantasy world with some very enjoyable characters. I enjoyed the book, but then, I haven’t NOT enjoyed any of McShane’s books so far.
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