Man, Steph (Reviewer X) and I were supposed to meet up, but I got delayed by personal reasons. I ended up not coming arriving in the city 'til today when she had to leave. We missed each other by about fifteen minutes. But Taren (The Chick Manifesto) can be jealous because I got to talk to Steph's brother on the phone.
By John Marco
THE EYES OF GOD moves far faster than any book with 779 pages should. I finished it and still had time to read a couple of other books and write 1,500 words in one day. When I started it I had no clue it would suck me in so completely.
John Marco begins not with turmoil, but with peace. Newly crowned King of Liiria Akeela the Good wants to end the war with neighboring country Reec. His mission succeeds and he leaves betrothed to Cassandra, the king's daughter. She waits while he prepares their wedding, protected by his foster brother Lukien (the Bronze Knight), whose prowess on the battlefield doesn't endear him to the Reecians.
This part takes a little of work to get through. Cassandra gains the love of both men simply by being beautiful. I don't think it's her personality because she's rather selfish - more concerned with being a ruler than being a good ruler. She hides the fact she's horribly ill since it might jeopardize her chances of becoming queen FOR GOOD REASON. Lukien is a little bit Sue-ish, with his good looks and athletic skill. This part is also the classic Arthurian triangle, which wasn't a good escape for someone writing a paper on de Troyes creation of the Arthurian triangle and how it compares/contrasts with two of his other non-fin'amours poems. (No seriously, I called it Courtly Love and Chrétien de Troyes: Lancelot in Contrast to Yvain and Perceval. I'm a total Arthur geek.)
But then it gets to the good stuff. Lukien seeks the Eyes of God (two amulets) to save Cassandra, but to do so he must harm a peaceful civilization. Back in Liiria knowledge of Cassandra's affair drives Akeela mad. He's an idealist, unable to deal with the realities of the world, even when the consequences of his actions are reasonably explained to him. (At first I thought Baron Glass would have a small role, and I was glad he continued showing up. He's a very interesting man. I'm very happy that the blurbs of the next novels indicate he plays a large part in them as well.)
The novel covers a decent span of time. In the first part the characters mostly make choices. In the second two, the consequences of those choices are realized. Even Cassandra becomes bearable after the time-skip. (She does have plenty of time to think about her actions.)
THE EYES OF GOD opens with a tale of forbidden love, but quickly ups the ante with political intrigue, battles, magic, and a mad king. It's highly entertaining and moves along smoothly. Marco sets up a number of mysteries in the first part and answers them at a decent pace instead of leaving all answers for the very end. There's also an excellent climax, with possible redemption and a high-stakes battle. If you can get through Cassandra's POV at the start you'll be rewarded.
THE EYES OF GOD is the first book in the Lukien Trilogy, followed by THE DEVIL'S ARMOR and THE SWORD OF ANGELS, all currently available. Marco is currently writing THE FOREVER KNIGHT, another story about Lukien. You can find more information on Marco's website, blog, or MySpace.