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Imperial Visions by I G Mansfield ~ A promising first novel Rebekah Send a noteboard - 22/09/2010 03:14:33 PM

Thomas Maynard, Junior Attaché at the Triune Empire’s embassy in Erd Gellin, wishes he’d been posted to a more exciting place. Political discussions over dinner and spending the majority of his time reading were hardly his picture of imperial service. But when that longed-for excitement does arrive, as the Empire’s Residency is burned to the ground and its occupants massacred, Thomas has to flee for his life to the nearby kingdom of Elaran, a tiny country surrounded by enemies but protected by hills.

As everything in his life changes, Thomas must also learn to control the new and debilitating visions that began during the massacre. And as time passes, it seems that Thomas’s newfound ability is key to the survival of Elaran and its people. It’s a lot for a young man to deal with, and his struggle to cope leads him into the very heart of danger.

Imperial Visions is a first novel with a lot of promise. Although a lot of the usual fantasy tropes are present – the young man learning how to deal with newfound power, the young queen fighting to protect her country, the mysterious evil intent on ruling the world – there is enough innovation to prevent it from feeling too derivative. And, let’s face it: those tropes are used so often because they make for an interesting story filled with tension. It’s no different here.

Thomas isn’t a perfect hero, and the young queen makes diplomatic errors instead of unerringly negotiating her way through the trials that beset her. Nor is she universally liked or disliked, which is definitely refreshing. The mysterious evil chap is a little too mysterious at this point to really comment on. And the usual religious tension – the sophisticated religion of the Imperial invaders contrasting with the “noble savagery” of the native people – is turned on its head. The religion of the empire seems to be a rougher thing compared with that of the people of Laurentia (the continent recently discovered by the Triune Empire). It’s more reminiscent of Catholic vs Protestant than Christian vs pagan.

Mansfield’s a good writer. The action of the novel never feels forced, and his characters are well drawn. There’s enough character development to retain interest, the different races/species are intriguing, and the Real World history feel is rather pleasant. The book is not Alt history, though. Rather it draws inspiration from Real World history – the Triune Empire seems to be a mix of Imperial Rome and the British Empire. It’s good to read something that is both foreign but familiar –less effort is required to get into the story, and Mansfield has fused the two well so the fantastic inventions do not jar.

There are some minor problems, though. Mansfield occasionally throws in too many adjectives, or big words which don’t quite fit in the context, and these can make his writing appear a little pedestrian in places. The different species seemed like they were included just to make it clear that this is a Fantasy World and they really needed to be better integrated into the story. Perhaps that will come in the next book. Finally, there were a lot of typos for a published book, and I always find that offputting.

Overall, however, this is a very good book, and it was a breeze to read. There were times when I felt a little bit nervous about what was coming next because I was so immersed in the action. It’s a solid first book, both for a writer and for a series, and I look forward to the next one.

Imperial Visions is published in the UK by Vanguard Press.

I G Mansfield is a Rafonaut, and his screen name is Iain83. Thanks very much, Iain, for sending this to me to review. I enjoyed it. :D And it was rather nice to be reading it when I was on holiday at Loch Torridon. ;)

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
This message last edited by Rebekah on 02/10/2010 at 12:33:29 AM
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Imperial Visions by I G Mansfield ~ A promising first novel - 22/09/2010 03:14:33 PM 12495 Views
I like the cover - 22/09/2010 06:36:17 PM 1717 Views
It is pretty. - 22/09/2010 06:39:41 PM 1502 Views

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