Amberlight by Sylvia Kelso

amberlight1.jpgAmberlight, ah Amberlight…the book that frustrated me to no end but paid off in the end! That’s a good thing…it kept me reading. Let me start off this review by saying that if you decide to read this book, see it through…it’s a great read. My initial frustrations with the book were getting into the flow of Sylvia Kelso’s language which is truly beautiful, but takes quite a bit of concentration to read at first. Once you get used to her style though, it becomes easy to get lost in her poetic grace. Here’s the opening paragraph:

” High moon over Amberlight, commanding the zenith, radiant, imperial, the city’s fretted-ink porticoes and balconies gnawing that torrent of aerial snow. Domes shed it, men’s towers drip with it. Under the vertical black rampart of the citadel wall, the qherrique outcrops glow to their depths with it: cabochon slabs girdling the hill’s waist, broad as cathedral floors, zones of luminous milk slanted between ragged frames of earth and grass. Qherrique. Pearl-Rock. Moon-Stone. The core and crown of Amberlight.” 

The whole book isn’t that heavy, but it gives an example of her skill with words. So what is this Qherrique, and what is Amberlight?  Amberlight is the city in which the book takes place…a beautiful city in which women rule the main houses and men serve the “traditional” roles seen in our society. Qherrique is a mysterious and powerful substance that is mined by the women and has many uses. It’s embedded in the walls of the houses, fuels the electricity, cars and weapons, and speaks to the women in a spiritual way. Needless to say it’s a very sought after substance by other colonies and has caused wars in the past.

At the beginning of Amberlight, a strange man who is unknown by anyone in Amberlight is found beaten, raped, and passed out in the streets and is taken in by Tellurith, head of Telluir house. He awakens and remembers nothing of who he is, what he is doing in the city or what has happened to him. The council grows suspicious of this stranger as Tellurith, a member of the council, begins to grow feelings for him. What will awaken with his memories? Where did he come from and why is he in Amberlight?

This is another book published by Juno, the same publisher that published Carole McDonnell’s Wind Follower. The  publisher focuses on fantasy with strong female characters and this is no exception. Tellurith is a wonderful character. She’s strong, brave when she needs to be, vulnerable like any human at times, and passionate as hell. She also frustrated me to no end at times, but I can’t really talk about that without giving away serious spoilers. But the book ended with me being satisfied. I just wish it would’ve come sooner so that I wouldn’t have been ripping my hair out! Well done Ms. Kelso!

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18 Responses

  1. This sounds interesting. I’m always up for some fantasy with strong female characters. I know what you mean about some books demanding a lot of concentration but being ultimately rewarding.

  2. wow, this sounds very interesting! and the idea of qherrique is quite reminiscent of “dune” and the spice.

    i can totally see why it took you so long to get into the style, though. one has to really get your mind around that writing style…!

    but it sounds very fresh and creative!. and its a mystery…! mysteries are cool! 🙂

  3. Whew. While the story sounds quite wonderful, I think I’ll have to pass on that one. Since I generally have to read in snippets of 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, I don’t think I’d ever make much progress with that one. I’m so glad you stuck with it since it turned out to be such a great story though.

  4. Ah Chris! My sentiments exactly! I mean…the woman is my friend and I’m still trying to get through it. Heavy concentration needed. I can deal with all the gender reversals…with the if-women-ruled-the-world-we-would-probably-be-as-bad-as-men bit…but that third person present and that poetic stuff…well, it’s been hard. (Cause I’m pretty simplistic when it comes down to it) But I’ll hold on.

    -C

  5. Hmmm… sounds like an interesting premise, but I don’t like prose quite that dense. Takes too long to get through it. And with the limited time I have to read, I dont’ want to get stuck with a book that takes too long to read.

  6. whelp, this doesn’t sound like one for my wishlist! (I’m always delighted to say that lol) But I love how you can enjoy so many different types of writing. It’s great to be able to enjoy such a variety!

  7. Nymeth, You’re one of the few that I would really recommend this one to. I think you would really enjoy it. It’s heavy at times, but it’s well worth it. I don’t think it would fit everyone’s taste, but it would yours. I didn’t think at first that it would be worth the energy I had put into reading it, but she throws in a twist that I hadn’t seen suddenly it was all worth it and all made sense. Should’ve trusted her!

    JP, I thought of Dune the whole time I was reading this book!!! And I had the same problem I had with Dune. I didn’t know if I could make it through. You’re going to hate hearing this, but I liked this better than Dune :/ I’m one of the few who just don’t like Dune…sorry! But yes, this is a good one, especially once you get into it and it’s a great mystery!

    Debi, Yeah, this one definitely isn’t one to be read in snippets…I found that I was so lost every time I tried to read in snippets because you really need to get “stuck” in this one to wrap your mind around it. I read it in about 3 hour and a half sessions. It’s only 260 pages, but it’s dense!

    Carole, It’s a rough one! I did have a few problems with it, but overall I really enjoyed it! The third person present tense really made it rough for me…I don’t think I ever got used to that. She really did a great job though and turned what I thought was becoming a weak character into a very strong character…still have some problems there though :/ But I’ll get over it!

    Kim, I don’t like it either…The whole book isn’t that dense, but it’s flowered throughout. I read this as a review copy and honestly probably wouldn’t have picked this up on my own. But I’m glad I read it. It did turn out to be a good one in the end, a story I would’ve never experienced. I know what you mean about getting stuck with a book! There’s not enough time to fit all the books in that we want to read!

    Deslily, Well I’m glad that your wishlist can take a breather, lol…it’s back might have cracked if you would’ve added another book! Kidding of course…mine’s much worse! Yeah, I enjoy just about everything!

  8. I’m glad you felt it was worth it in the end, Chris, but books are to be enjoyed. If the writing style is not to your liking, you probably shouldn’t bother with it. If you are literally having to concentrate to stay with it…then give it up. That does not make for a rewarding experience.

    Not all books are for all readers.

  9. No, no, no don’t rip your hair out. I like your hair. And, I’m very glad you enjoyed the book. Put a hat on, next time you have to wait. 🙂

  10. Paula, I disagree here. I think it’s a testament to the author that I wanted to stay with the book even though I had to struggle with it a little bit at first. I’ve tossed many books aside in the past and would’ve tossed this one aside too if it were a bother, but it wasn’t. Just because I have a dilemma with a book does not mean that I can’t enjoy it. For instance, the relationship between Tellurith and Alkhes was a definite hook for me in this book and extremely frustrating at times. But I think it was meant to be. And as for Kelso’s writing style, it’s extremely different and I don’t think many people would take to it right away…that doesn’t make it bad at all, in fact, I really appreciated it once I got used to it and enjoy taking a venture out of what I’m used to every now and then. But anyway, all this is to say that I did enjoy this book and I did find it to be rewarding…

    Bookfool, My hair’s still there :p I enjoyed the book immensely! I’ll just have to learn to trust that my author’s will deliver for now on!

  11. I don’t know Chris. I may have to agree with Paula on this one. For me, a truly great book is one that starts good, grabs you right away, and you can enjoy the whole thing!! If it’s frustrating to read, at least for me, it might not be worth it, even for a great ending!!

  12. Stephanie, I definitely agree with you..I would not call this a great book. What I was disagreeing with Paula about was that she was saying that I didn’t enjoy this book and I should’ve given up on it and thrown it aside. I did enjoy it and don’t think I should’ve thrown it aside. If I would’ve thought it should’ve been thrown aside…..I would’ve throw it aside! But yeah, not a great book, but an enjoyable read. I wish that they could all be great!

  13. OK. I get it. I’m actually one of those people that HATES to quit reading a book I’ve started. I don’t know why. I just feel terrible if I don’t finish it.

    At least you ended up enjoying it!!

  14. That sounds like an interesting novel, and I’m intrigued about the frustration the character made you feel. I’m glad you ended up liking the book. I had a similar experience with Inkheart, which I finally read recently. I think maybe expectations had a bit to do with my reaction, as well. The characters were very frustrating to me at times – but I’m glad I read the book!

  15. Steph, I’m the same way…hate to stop reading a book once I’ve started it, but I’ve been known to do it before…did it last year with Scar Night…I just couldn’t bear it any longer! I’m glad I liked this one too…it paid off in the end 🙂

    Darla, It was a very interesting novel. Unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Intriguing is a great word for it. I’ll be reading Inkheart this year (I hope), so I’m looking forward to my reaction to it!

  16. oh no, i don’t mind in the least! “dune” isn’t for everyone. and i’d much rather hear your honest thoughts on books, ’cause… well, ’cause. it just makes the interaction more real.

    now that sounded far more profound than what i was going for, but you know what i mean.

    i’m certainly by no means precious about my favourites and think “everyone should like them”.

  17. JP, LOL! I’m the same way…not everything is for everyone and it certainly makes for interesting discussion when others don’t dig the same books that you do.

  18. the visual effects of inkheart is really great, but i the visual of effects of Transformers is the best *

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