Review: The Pillars of the World (Tir Alainn #1) by Anne Bishop

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date Read: March 05 to 10, 2016
Recommended by: The Vaginal Fantasy Group
Recommended to:

Anne Bishop is my blind spot, so for the time being this whole trilogy (Pillars of the World, Shadows and Light, The House of Gaian) gets a solid 4-star rating, but that might change later on once I let the story and the whirlwind ending settle down a bit.

Normally 4-star books are automatic recommendations from me for friends who share similar tastes, but not this time. I can’t say I’d rec this book, Pillars of the World, unless you plan on finishing the series because of the ending. It’s kind of agonizing and will probably make you want to pull out all your hair, but the third book makes up for your suffering because the bad guys get what they deserve and maybe more. It’s Anne Bishop’s signature style. It’s precisely why I like her writing and why she’s my blind spot.

This book in particular though had three things going against it from the very beginning:
– vague medieval setting
– young naive protagonist
– the fae (and their meddlesome nature)

I’m not too keen on these particular elements in genre fiction in general, so I went into the story not expecting much. And yet somehow Anne Bishop made all the things I hate interesting, and that’s despite using over trodden tropes and cliches that we’re all familiar with and tired of seeing time and time again. In her hands, these things become interesting somehow. I don’t know how she does it–really though, how does she do it?

If I were to take this story apart piece by piece and look at each individual piece, it would be contain the very things I take issue with in other high fantasy series. Terry Goodkind comes to mind at the moment. Pillars contains almost everything I hated about Wizard’s First Rule, particularly the copious amount of violence and torture. And yet–AND YET–that didn’t get in the way of the read and I was able to move past it and enjoy the story–well, “enjoy” is probably not the right word, but I did like it. Of course it bothered me and made reading about it in great detail uncomfortable, but I knew there was a purpose to it and its role in the story arc. Because that’s Anne Bishop’s signature style. Evil doers tend to get what they deserves in the end.

But just looking at all the things I take issue with, it’s quite baffling I’m giving this book a high rating (for now). Quite baffling, really. What’s even more baffling is I blew through the trilogy in a matter of days, and I enjoyed it immensely. Again, maybe not “enjoyed” exactly, although I did like it a lot.

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