BOOK REVIEW: THE LADY / AUTHOR: K.V. JOHANSEN / PUBLISHER: RANDOM HOUSE INTERNATIONAL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
We enjoyed K.V. Johansen’s previous novel, the rather old-fashioned action adventure fantasy book, The Leopard. In a genre filled with terribly worthy and shockingly meta storytelling, it’s nice to have a straightforward story every once in a while. The Leopard now has a companion piece (and sequel): The Lady.
The plot is as over-involved and bogged down in world-building as you’d expect. The previous book had left our heroes, Deya, Ajhvar and Ghu, in an absolute state and up against the dreaded Red Masks and The Lady herself. In order to keep the reader in suspense, Johansen focusses on some of the minor characters we met in the first book, carefully using the points of view of these heroes to expand the world and story. We get to see more of the city of Marakand and learn more about the entombed gods Gurhan and Ilbialla. It’s also nice to see Grasslander wizard Ivah, the shapeshifting Blackdog, and the bear-demon Mikki as they are fairly well-formed characters. A further explanation of the plot beyond ‘swords and sorcery adventure fun’ will pretty much ruin the early surprises. Suffice to say, don’t read this unless you’ve read The Leopard first, otherwise you will be quite lost.
Johansen’s relentless style becomes more of a hindrance as the book goes on. It starts at a frantic pace and keeps that up all the way throughout. Though this is great for combat and magic scenes, it’s less good for the quieter world-building moments and this saps away all the value. The Lady is a constant banging drum, a high speed beat that does not stop. Alas, this approach strips away all nuance and leaves with something that is rather one dimensional. By the time we hit the conclusion, there are no surprises left.
If you’re looking for high speed and compulsive holiday reading, then pair The Lady with The Leopard and lock the world away for a while, though be warned, they won’t last long.
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