Review: Sorcery of Thorns By Margaret Rogerson

Category:

Fantasy

Rating:

Introduction:

Elisabeth has always believed that all sorcerers are evil, a notion ingrained in her since childhood. Growing up in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, she has been surrounded by magical grimoires that possess the ability to transform into monsters of ink and leather. With the aspiration of becoming a warden to protect the kingdom from the dangerous power of sorcery, she is well-versed in their potential dangers.

However, when the library’s most dangerous grimoire is released due to an act of sabotage, Elisabeth is implicated in the crime and forced to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, Nathaniel Thorn, a sorcerer, and his enigmatic demonic servant, she is thrust into a web of intrigue and conspiracy that spans centuries. The stakes are high, with the possibility of the Great Libraries being destroyed, and the world along with it.

As Elisabeth and Nathaniel’s alliance grows stronger, she begins to question everything she has been taught about sorcerers, the libraries she loves, and even herself. She discovers a hidden power within herself that she never imagined, and a future that she never thought possible.

Review:

Upon reading An Enchantment of Ravens in 2018, I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I did feel that the story lacked a substantial plot. Consequently, I eagerly anticipated the release of Sorcery of Thorns, as I believed that the book’s significant increase in page count would fulfill my desire for a more intricate plot. True enough, the book exceeded my expectations in terms of plot development. Nevertheless, I must admit that it may have had an excess of plot twists and turns.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the character Nathaniel, who reminded me a great deal of Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle – a beloved character of mine. The book as a whole actually had numerous parallels to Howl’s Moving Castle, and those elements were the ones I adored the most.

One of the main issues that kept pulling me out of the story was my confusion regarding the societal structure of the community and its lack of contact with any external societies. The librarians exhibit an intense dislike towards the sorcerers, whom they consider to be evil. However, the grimoires that the librarians look after are actually created by the sorcerers and contain demonic magic themselves. Moreover, the librarians allow the sorcerers to access the libraries and even transfer the grimoires to other libraries. It is also perplexing that the sorcerers are considered to be notorious celebrities, despite being despised by the community. I feel that the interaction between the two groups could have been better defined and presented. For instance, I was curious to know which group the ruler of the society favored, as well as how their influences were balanced or imbalanced. Although I understand why the librarians safeguard the grimoires, I found it strange that they did not make more effort to learn the language in which the books were written to prevent sorcerers from exploiting the knowledge to perform more evil sorcery. The inconsistencies in the portrayal of sorcerers caused me to struggle with staying engaged in the story. On one hand, the sorcerers were given immense respect, while on the other hand, they were immediately thrown in a cell upon being seen by a librarian.

Although I cannot identify a specific reason, one of the factors that contributed to my lack of investment in this book was my inability to connect with the characters. For me, characters are the foundation of a story, but in Sorcery of Thorns, I found myself liking the characters without truly feeling connected to them. The writing style, although visually descriptive of the world around Nathaniel and Elisabeth, also made me feel detached from the characters themselves. While the beauty of the world is captured well, I did not feel wholly immersed in the characters’ experiences.

Despite my difficulty in connecting with the characters, Elisabeth was a wonderful protagonist. She possesses intelligence and impressive physical abilities. Nathaniel, on the other hand, appeared to be a rather conventional love interest with a complex past, yet I could empathize with him due to his bisexuality. It was refreshing to see a bisexual character in a fantasy that was based on historical times, as it is not a common theme in literature. Both characters developed PTSD throughout the story, with Nathaniel’s stemming from his childhood and Elisabeth’s developing as events unfolded. The book portrayed their PTSD well, considering the society depicted had no language or understanding for the condition. Additionally, Silas, Nathaniel’s demon servant, added charm and warmth to the story, despite being an emotionless being. He was a notable and endearing character in the book.

One of the main reasons why I struggled to engage with Sorcery of Thorns was the inconsistent pacing. While there were moments where the story moved too slowly, there were others where it moved too quickly, leaving me feeling disoriented. Towards the end, the pacing improved, but there were still some flat moments that failed to capture my attention. Furthermore, the fact that I was able to predict the main villain’s motives before the protagonists did took away from the suspense and slowed the story down for me. Lastly, the emotional impact of certain events didn’t resonate with me as much as it could have due to the complexity of the magic system.

Although Sorcery of Thorns didn’t completely capture my attention as I had hoped, I would still recommend it as a whimsical and magical fantasy. Despite my criticisms, the book has two interesting and dynamic main characters and a unique setting that many readers will enjoy. I plan on rereading the book when I have a clearer mind, as I feel that my current busy schedule may have affected my enjoyment of it.

Book Cover:

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