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Review: Talyn: A Novel of Korre by Holly Lisle

>>Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Title: Talyn: A Novel of Korre
Author: Holly Lisle
Series: Korre #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 576
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: November 28th, 2006
Publisher: Tor Books
Rating: 6

From Goodreads: In a world where technology is magic, and war is the only way of life, Talyn is a soldier, one of thousands trained from childhood to protect her country from the monarchist Eastil, who would take away the personal freedoms of the Tonk.

Talyn long ago embraced her fate: to die in battle. This is a war of magic, not of swords, and the battles are fought deep inside the View, a place where the magic inherent in everything and everyone is actualized. The soldiers--on both sides--can bring this magic to the physical plane and use it to destroy houses, fields, and people.

But the Feegash came from across the world, and demanded to be allowed to negotiate peace between the Eastil and the Tonk for the sake of the rest of the world. Their success meant Talyn was out of a job, and at a loss for what to do with her life.

Rather than follow most of her fellow soldiers to jobs in other parts of the world, Talyn stayed with her family in her town--and there she is seduced by a Feegash diplomat. With him she experiences a dark side of herself that she hadn't even imagined, and learns a new kind of magery.
And she discovers the mistreatment of Eastil prisoners of war, still in Tonk hands, and weighs her life against saving theirs.

It's a matter of honor--and her honor will be challenged again and again as she slowly discovers that what the Feegash have brought with them was not peace but an overwhelming oppression, and an evil so insidious no one noticed it until it was too late.

But if Talyn can hone her use of the Feegash flesh-magery, she can turn their own magic back against them. With the help of one of the Eastil prisoners, she might be able to use it to save the Tonk andthe Eastil, and defeat the Feegash once and for all... if it doesn't destroy her from the inside out first.

Source: Bought

My Review
Wow, it’s been a while since I posted a review. I have been so busy with the end of the semester in school and this year it’s been the heaviest workload I have had in my three years in university. Fortunately, I see the light at the end of the tunnel; I am down to two exams and then I can get back into my regular reading schedule.

Now onto the review: I have mixed feelings about Talyn. There are things I loved about it and things I really didn’t love. Firstly, I loved the setting of the novel; it’s a new world that has a fascinating society. Basically there are two cultures of people that occupy land as neighbors who have been warring for over 300 years. One is a free-state democracy type society and the other is a monarchy. The novel explores their issues about racism and elitism between the two factions. Talyn is part of the democracy; they are called Tonks. The book follows her journey through some great adventure and romance (although the romance was a lot more underplayed than I initially expected).

The magic system created in this world is also fantastic. It’s hard to describe. There’s the View which people can enter where they have to power to protect and destroy, and this is used by the warring factions to attack each other constantly, but they are so close that it’s basically a stalemate. They just continue to fight and have even made countless rules and regulations over the centuries that govern this war to the point it is ingrained in their daily lives as harvesting and raising a family.

Lives change when a third race, the Feegash, enter the picture as diplomats and set up a peace treaty between the Tonks and the Eastils. But it doesn’t end there (of course), and they find that there’s more going on than they think.

As for the things I didn’t like, well, the book was not consistent in its intrigue. I found that the beginning was awesome, then it lulled, then it got awesome again, and then instead of creating a great climax, the book for some reason went on for another 200 pages, and then ended in the big confrontation in the last 20 pages. I really found myself wondering why it was taking so long. Some good things happened in those 200 pages but they were so spread out and were events that I couldn’t figure out why they HAD to be there that I felt it was just becoming too contrived. There would be build-up to action and then the author would throw in pages of self-reflection and speculation that I think extremely slowed down the actual plot. This, for me, is what knocked the book down from great to good.

Also, I have to say, they really marketed this book to appeal to fans of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. The cover is no doubt referencing the cover of Kushiel’s Dart (although I don’t know which came first) and there is even a blurb by Carey on the front. I thought Kushiel’s Dart was okay, so that didn’t really help me in deciding to read this, but I have to say I thought this was better than Kushiel’s Dart. Even though Talyn’s often annoying voice reminded me too much of Phedre (instead of “we are D’Angeline, we are the best!” it was “we are Tonk, we are the best!” every few pages).

Rating: 6
Anyways, I recommend it for those interested in a first person narrative by a strong female protagonist, with great world building. I just warn you that it might be a bore sometimes. I would also probably try another of Lisle's novels one day.


  1. Great review!! I've heard of this author, but I've hadn't heard of this book before. Thanks so much for stopping by and following my blog! I'm following yours now too :)

  2. I haven't heard of this book before but it sounds like an interesting concept. Thanks for sharing an honest review.



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