Geomancer

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Author: Ian Irvine
Barcode/ISBN13: 9780140292329
ISBN: 0140292322
Imprint/Brand: Penguin
Release Date: 29 Sep 2003
Format: A Paperback
Series: Well of Echoes 01
Number of Pages: 636
Weight: 463 grammes
Price in AUD: $23.95
Categories: Fantasy
Book
Australian Author

Tiaan, a lonely crystal worker, is using a new crystal when she begins to have extraordinary visions. The crystal has woken her talent for geomancy, the most powerful of the Secret Arts, and the most perilous. Geomancy is a magic that humanity's allies and enemies alike are desperate to control, but it is deadly to the user.
Falsely accused of sabotage by her rivals, Irisis, Tiaan flees for her life. She is captured by the alien lyrinx, Ryll, who plans to use her in his dreadful flesh-forming experiments. Only geomancy can save her. Struggling to control her talent, Tiaan follows her visions all the way to Tirthrax, greatest peak in the Three Worlds, where a nightmare awaits her . . .

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Review by Andrew Rowling:

This Epic Fantasy quartet begins with the book Geomancer, and depicts the war between the humans of the planet Santhenar and the winged, armoured and incredibly intelligent creatures known as the Lyrinx, who came out of the void when the Forbidding broke. The war has lasted for over one hundred and fifty years and peace has almost been forgotten.
Tiaan is a gifted artisan, or crystal worker, who shapes crystals and their accompanying mechanics to power the armoured war machines known as clankers. When several clankers malfunction and the soldiers they were carrying die, Tiaan is held responsible and must solve the problem to prove that she was not at fault. During her search for answers she and a friend, Old Joeyn, uncover a very strange and unique crystal in the mines, containing a power and nature beyond the comprehension of any human that studies it. Tiaan takes it back to the manufactory with her and eventually begins to have strange dreams of another world, its population dying as volcanoes erupt on every continent. This, combined with the acts of unknown conspirators, eventually convinces her superiors that she is mad. Tiaan is forced to flee or be placed in a breeding factory, and along the way discovers (and is shown) that she is developing a new ability that lets her draw power from the planet itself. The power could win the war, and both sides - human and lyrinx - persue her for the sake of their own survival. Meanwhile Tiaan follows the voice inside her dreams, trying to discover their nature and see if there really is a world choking on smoke and ash. She must also decide whether saving the people on it would bring her own world another enemy or give them a new ally for the war against the lyrinx.
The above explains perhaps the first one hundred and fifty pages of the first novel, Geomancer, and only from one character's viewpoint. The Well of Echoes is divided into four books but reads as one large novel of incredible length and complexity. This does it credit, however, because the complexity is not mind-boggling but rather captivating, showing that the author has thought about every detail of his world and left out nothing. On top of this Ian Irvine's book can be thrilling, and is on rare occasions not too dissimilar to works of Matthew Reilly, though such moments occur infrequently. One of the things in Ian Irvine's favour in this matter is that it does not read like a typical fantasy novel, where although the characters struggle, they always manage to succeed in the end (or where the failures end up being an unexpected advantage). Rather, failures occur more often than heroic successes, and the consequences are usually dire and irreparable, so I find myself always on the edge of my seat when the characters enter combat or other struggles, knowing very well that the worst may happen. Another factor adding to this is the fact that there is very little black and white in the story even though the characters may be at odds, so if one character has a victory the other may suffer agonising failure. Ian Irvine shows their suffering well. Likewise, because of the risks involved, the reader is able to share in the thrill of a triumph. To reiterate, The Well of Echoes will have you breathing a sigh of relief, or thumping your table angrily (if you are so inclined), but most of all it will have you sitting up late at night and begging for more as the struggles go on and on, or are replaced by new struggles. Ian Irvine rarely lets his characters, or the reader, rest. The Well of Echoes is Ian's second series, and The View from the Mirror, beginning with the book A Shadow on the Glass, is his first. The first series occurred 200 years before the second series and is featured as a vital part of the world's history in The Well of Echoes. So although it is not completely necessary to read. The View from the Mirror first, I recommended it so the books can be best appreciated (the author would disagree with me in this matter as he wrote the second series to stand on its own). It is unfortunate that the first half of A Shadow on the Glass can be rather slow at times, because it does not reflect the gripping method of writing that begins to emerge on page 193. After that moment however, his series simply gets better and better and you'll soon find yourself struggling to put it down to sleep. I was sharing the books with a family member and through the majority of both series we were waiting anxiously for the other to finish, and projecting evil thoughts at each other in order to try and catalyse a chemical reaction in their bowels so they would have to run to the toilet and leave the book behind (this would have worked except that they took the book with them). Because of this, I strongly recommend enduring the first half of A View from the Mirror so as to appreciate the rest of his books for all they are worth.
One thing against these books is that they are very hard to write about without giving away plot spoilers. This is why I did not go into much detail. Even the back of the books give away too much at times, so it is suggested that you do not read the back cover before the novel itself. Likewise, do not read the back cover of a future book because it can give away details of the way the previous book ends. Otherwise, these books excite me, and I'm feeling somewhat unhappy with the fact that I now have to find another series to read since I finished The Well of Echoes.