Book Review: The Summon Stone by Ian Irvine

The Summon Stone by Ian Irvine

 

I’ve waited a long time to read more about Karen and Llian. Ian Irvine’s Three Worlds Cycle has a special place in my heart because it was the first fantasy series that I really fell in love with. I think I first read it when I was at university, ten years ago, and I have read (all eleven books) several times since then. It is rare for me to read fiction more than once, but the story is so complex, there are so many characters, so many adventures and issues, and moreover, I love Karen so much, that I feel very able to re-read it. Why do I love Karen so much? She is quiet and sensitive, yet she goes on this epic journey, which proves her resourcefulness and illustrates her conflicted loyalties. She struggles with all of this, and you really feel for her. She is special, she’s a sensitive, but she is thrust into a world of the more powerful and large egos and conflicting cultures, histories and philosophies.

The Summon Stone was a welcome update. I think Ian Irvine has said that his writing has evolved and The Summon Stone definitely felt pacey and tension-filled. I love that we get to see Karen and Llian after the events of the View from the Mirror—don’t you always wonder what happens to the characters next? I love that they are parents, I have grown up with Karen and Llian, from when they were young and running for their lives, to now having a different set of responsibilities and concerns.

Ian Irvine once described the Three Worlds Cycle as a ‘Darwinian Fantasy’ – the central theme isn’t good against evil, it is about the struggle for survival between four species of humans. I was intrigued therefore, when the first chapter of the new book was titled ‘The evil man saw me.’ Santhanar is under threat once more (in fact I know it will one day be under threat from the void, as the second and third trilogies of the Three Worlds Cycle deal with further down the timeline than The Summon Stone).

I enjoyed the ride, with old and new characters. The old characters have of course evolved since the first trilogy, but they add a familiarity that I craved when I picked this up. It’s important I suppose when picking up old characters to make the story feel fresh and exciting, rather than a nostalgic remembrance of all things we loved about these characters in the first place. The Summon Stone delivers. I like the tension, the sense of everything starting to go wrong, of Karen being at the forefront of it all once more, trying to save her family in the midst of worldwide danger. Because I already cared what happened to Karen, and the more dire things got, the more I rooted for her.

One of the things I loved about The View from the Mirror was the sense of an epic journey and of traveling through fantastical landscapes: mountains and forest, leech infested bogs, salt deserts, sprawling cities. In The Summon Stone we travel through Santhanar again, go inside mansions and down tunnels, up to eerie mountain tops and black lakes, we go to the cold void. I will always love the sense of adventure I get from reading Irvine novels.

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