First off let me say that I have never read any books by Katherine Kerr before. I’ve heard of her as she’s a popular fantasy author but never read any books by her. This book I picked up due to its’ interesting premise.
Listen to this: Eight hundred years before the start of the novel, humans were left stranded on the planet Snare after their colonization ships were thrown off course and disabled. The humans were split between 3 camps with their own religions and beliefs, but most of them belong to a fanatical Islamic splinter cult. Islam that has been changed by the teachings of the Second and Third Prophets. However, Snare is home to its’ own indigenous life form, the Cha'Meech (Think of a giant size ET). As a result, the Cha'Meech and the technologically advanced humans reached an agreement to ensure both species' survival. 800 years is a long time however, and when the novel starts, the fanatical Islamic splinter cult has built a great empire, Kazrajistan, on Snare. However, most of them have long forgotten about the agreement with the Cha’Meech and there is growing political turmoil in Kazrajistan against their ruler, the Great Khan. Revolution is in the air.
Sounds interesting right? It got my interest. However you can ignore it because the book is very different.
For one thing, the story did not take place in Kazrajistan. Most of the story is on the plains, home of the horse tribes (think American Indians). Strange thing about the book is that outside the first 100 pages, we don’t see Kazrajistan till the very, very end of it. This was quite disappointing because Kazrajistan was far more interesting than the plains and the Cantons.
I don’t quite understand why but it seems that Kerr has some problems writing about Kazrajistan. At times she went out of the way to avoid mentioning the nation and its’ people. A good example for this was the lack of mention in the clothing of the people. Kerr mention how the people on the plains and Cantons were dressed but no mention about the people of Kazrajistan. All I got was that the women wore veils. There was no mention about what kind of veils (tudung, burqa etc), just an all-covering veil. That’s it!
The end was also disappointing. The pace in the last quarter of the book changed quite dramatically. I can’t help but think ‘rewrite’ as it felt that Kerr was rushing to finish the book. As usual, that’s not a good thing.
However, it’s not all bad. The pacing of the book (outside the end) make Snare was an easy read and I can see why Kerr has so many fans. The characters were interesting and most of them were quite memorable. Idres and Jezro Khan ate up the pages whenever they were together.
Problem was that the minuses outnumbered the plus. There were plenty of things that could have been exploited, like the political situation in Kazrajistan, but most of it were ignored for a trip though the world of Snare. Snare is a good, easy read but it’s also a book that could have been so much better. Overall, it was a disappointing book for me.