Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cast of Illusions by Ashley Barnard

Cast of Illusions, by Ashley Barnard is a wonderful story that can appeal to both fans of fantasy stories and lovers of classic Shakespeare alike.  The story very much reads like something of a love-letter to Shakespearean theater and style.

Miss Barnard does a good job of portraying the taken-for-granted injustices of feudal societies.  The dichotomy of classes and the flagrant disrespect for women are both visibly apparent to the reader without being sledgehammered with a distinctly clear message.  The characters are both confused and disquieted in realistic ways as they start to actually look at the way of things and have to deal with the shattering of their assumptions.  In some cases things go well and in others they don't, but you do find yourself caring for which direction the characters plan to go.

The dialogue is another good piece of writing by the author and it consistently carries with it the distinct flavor of Shakespearean speech while still being accessible to the modern reader.  The narration itself has a distinct character to it that could almost be seen as that of the Chorus standing to the side and giving the audience further explanation for play unfolding before them.

There are many layers and intrigues from all sides such that it is hard to tell in which direction the story might eventually go.  As much as it feels like something the Bard may have written, you are left wondering of which sort through the majority of the book.  It contains elements of the Histories, Tragedies and Comedies all together and as you read it, you will find yourself believing it might go one way or another.  And in the end the clues she left before as to the direction things go will finally be readily apparent.

As to the magic and the Selphyn people, it is a subtle, imaginative piece to the fiction that adds to its flavor.  It is enjoyable and serves more as a backdrop than as a driver of plot.  As can be expected, it seems to share much of its inspiration from such plays as "The Tempest" or "Midsummer Night's Dream" and I'd say mostly the second of those two.

All in all it was a rather good read.

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