BOOK REVIEW: The Split Worlds: Between Two Thorns

BetweenTwoThorns-144dpiIn 2011 Emma Newman embarked on an ambitious project, to write and distribute free to her mailing list subscribers 26 weekly short stories, released as part of a year and a day build up to the launch of her first novel The Split Worlds: Between Two Thorns.

AUTHOR: Emma Newman
PUBLISHER: Angry Robot
P/BACK: 384 Pages
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978-0-85766-319-1

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

The title of the book ‘The Split Worlds’ refers to the Nether (as in neither here nor there) where the ‘far-touched’ great families and sorcerers live. This is located between Mundanus, the real world where us mortals live, and Exilium, a pretty prison where the fae have been imprisoned by sorcerers.

The plot switches between the social lives of those in the Nether city of Aquae Sulis. Here the Master of Ceremonies is missing and some serious plots are a-foot. Back in Mundanus, Max – an Arbiter (upholds the law of the Split Worlds Treaty) is tasked with not only finding him, but also secretly trying to find out who is behind the destruction of Bath’s Arbiter chapter. Max is helped (Hmmm, helped might not actually be the best word here) by sorcerer Ekstrand, who may be a little mad – not that I would say that to his face if I were you!, and a stone gargoyle who since being ‘joined’ with Max’s soul is now alive – best not to ask about that! And if that wasn’t enough, Max is thrown together with Cathy, who just wants to escape her family and arranged marriage in Aquae Sulis to live in peace in Mundanus – Manchester actually!

They both mistrust each other, but must work together to find out what has happened to the Master of Ceremonies, and if and why his disappearance is connected with the destruction of the arbiter chapter. One thing is certainly clear, the answer is not going to be straight-forward!

The original premise of this novel really drew me in and I had such a hard time putting it down that I ended up finishing it within a couple of days. The story does flit from one person to another with each chapter focusing on a different character and their involvement in the story. I really liked this as it meant that you got to see the world’s from the different perspectives of each person.

The characters are brilliantly written, I totally fell in love with the gargoyle who as a result of having Max’s soul is just so emotional and he really brought some comedy to the book. The worlds, especially the Nether are vividly described to the point that when the big parties occur you almost feel like you are there.

The plot is well planned and executed, the short stories that Newman has written obviously helped this dramatically as she has been able to explore her ideas before starting on her book. The book did end on a couple of cliff-hangers, ready to lead onto the next book, this did annoy me a little but only because I hate having to wait to find out what is going on (I was not endowed with patience!)

All in all I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait until the next book comes out, just so that I can pick up the story again. The second book Any Other Name is due out in June 2013, with the third All Is Fair following closely behind it in October 2013. And if, like me you can’t wait until June and want more Spilt Worlds then head over to Newman’s website to sign up and get free stories every week.

With all the bank holidays coming up and the weather slowly starting to get warmer, I suggest finding a little place in the sun and while away the time reading this. A word of warning, make sure it is somewhere comfortable though as once you start this magical book, you won’t be going anywhere until you finish it. Absolutely brilliant.

Rating: 5/5
Reporter: darkphoenix1701

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