A Time of Omens, the second book of the second Deverry quartet, is no more than a competent entry. Despite the easy reading, it took me days to get through and I really struggled at times to muster much interest in the doings of Rhodry.
Rhodry spends a number of years wandering in the Westlands, integrating himself into the lives of the Elcyion Lacar. Jill has gone seeking the remnant of the Elven race that fled south when the Hordes destroyed their homelands. We spend a lot of time in Evandar’s dreamlike world, but because he doesn’t feel compassion or understand human emotions, I don’t find him endearing and can’t enjoy his storyline. We get the obligatory visit to a past incarnation of Rhodry (this time a continuation of the timeline where Maryn is become High King of all Deverry), and the book finishes off with a quick canter to a few years down the line (approx 1100, when most of the ‘present’ storyline has been 1090’s up until now).
So, we are essentially reading a number of different short stories in our path to understanding the overall tapestry. I love all the interwoven threads, but this makes the pace slow. Just when you are enjoying the stories of one set of characters, you pick up with another set and have to learn affection for them. It helps that Kerr is dealing with reborn souls, so they are essentially the same character, but they have enough differing characteristics for them to jar slightly until you begin to pick up and follow their particular storyline. Katharine Kerr never forgets a character once they’ve proved useful and been introduced, so we see, for example, Perryn still hovering in the background and stepping into the story here and there.
The ending of A Time of Omens is abrupt and, up to that point, not a great deal really happens! As the title suggests, this novel is about omens and bad tidings coming together. I’m sure they are a huge foretelling for the next couple of novels, but we seem to be treading water while Kerr puts everything in place.
So, A Time of Omens is a disappointing entry into the Deverry series, but a necessary one. Big warning here: new readers should not step into the Deverry series at this point! Go all the way back to Daggerspell!
Deverry — (1986-2009) Publisher: Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d rightened that wrong — and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness… and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly revised edition comes the incredible novel that began one of the best-loved fantasy seers in recent years — a tale of bold adventure and timeless love, perilous battle and pure magic.
Act one: Deverry — In the UK, the third book is Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood, and the fourth book is Dragonspell: The Southern Sea.
Act two: The Westlands — in the UK, the third book is A Time of War and the fourth book is A Time of Justice.
Act three: The Dragon Mage
Act four: The Silver Wyrm — in the UK, these are continuations of Act Three: The Dragon Mage.