Saturday, January 3, 2009

Emerald House Rising

Title: Emerald House Rising
Author: Peg Kerr
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 1997

Jenna never asked to be a wizard. She asked to be a gem cutter, just like her father. In fact, she’s his apprentice. But like so many things in life do, it was unexpected and sudden. Jenna finds herself whisked away to a castle far from home, amongst strangers and friendless. It is there that she learns her true strengths and uncovers the beginning of a plot which threatens the entire country.

A country with a nobility system built around the major precious stones… intriguing. But really, that doesn’t enter into the story until much later. This is mostly because while Jenna cuts gems: she’s only an apprentice and is more worried about earning her journeyman’s badge.

So at first I thought Jenna was wishy-washy and a bit of a bland character, but as the book progressed she really grew on me. Not only did she develop a backbone and a bit of sarcastic bite, but it turns out that she’s smart!

The magic system in this book is a little unspecific. Something about needing to see the different choices available to a person? But really that’s about as far as it’s developed. Makes it easy to fit the magic system into the plot, but it’s not too easy for the reader to envision. Perhaps that’s because we can’t see all the choices.

Overall, though, the plot is more than satisfying. The Diadem court and its’ leaders (most prominent to the story are the Ruby and the Diamond, despite the title) is a fascinating place of intrigue which Jenna and the reader are swept up into, and while the book revolves around a romance, it’s not really a romantic book. It’s more of a mystery, and very enjoyable!

Emerald House Rising is told from third person limited. You don’t ever see outside Jenna’s mind.

My Thoughts:
I really loved the description of the gemstones and gem cutting in this book. I can actually say I understand the lost wax method of casting jewelry thanks to Emerald House Rising. And it made me want to buy more bracelets and necklaces, which was bad for my bank account but great for the jewelry box.

Favorite Scene:
Jenna sneaking down the halls of Duone Keep in the dark, trying to find Lord Morgan’s room and running into Lady Kestrienne is my favorite scene. It takes the cake because of the ingenious reason for their being there that Lady Kestrienne gives Lord Duone. Absurd and reasonable at the same time.

Who this book is best for:
Anyone who likes fantasy novels will enjoy this one. It’s 325 pages, so if you’re shopping for Young Adults, make sure they have the staying power to finish it.

Violence: 2 of 5 for death by magic at the climax of the story.

Stars: 4.5 of 5

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