C. J. Cherryh – Fortress Of Eagles

Fortress Of Eagles (1998) is the second book of the so-called Fortress series by C. J. Cherryh. It continues a fairly straightforward high fantasy tale where magic plays an import but non-intrusive role. Character development and interaction form the base from which Cherryh tells her story. The setting is a typical mediaevil one where religion clashes sorcery and noblemen are involved in intrigues to gain influence and power. Cherryh uses these fairly basic and common elements well but as they are somewhat common she is not able to get out of the standard mold.

Cherryh has a good writing style which makes it easy to read the story, although her dialogues sometimes feel a bit too extended. In a way she seems to repeat herself as arguments seem to be similar as before. You know how each character responds, so it does not add much.

Another issue, which was already there in the first book, but less prominent, is that Cherryh uses too many words to tell her story. It reminded me much of Robert Jordan, who had the same problem. In general this is not troublesome if it is done throughout the novel, but in case of Fortress Of Eagles it happens for almost the first half of the novel (which was 450 pages in length). It is a typical case of “where was the editor?” because hardly anything happens except for some general dialogue updating the reader of the current situation which is not even that new. There is no action and situations are only mildly exciting. Plot development is basically zero. I would almost call it boring, but Cherryh managed with her easy writing style to get me through it until halfway. It is there that the story finally picks ups and new events start to unfold. But then we are already past the half so with the regular pace of Cherryh there are few pages left to develop the plot. So after 450 pages the plot of the whole novel is quite meager and more of an intermezzo to set the stage for the next novel (so I hope).

So with such criticism is this a bad book? Actually not. The second half, even with the limited plot, I really enjoyed. It is nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary, but well written. As a sequel it is a straight continuation of the first novel, Fortress In The Eye Of Time, and explorers an interesting tale of which the depths remain unknown. Overall it still seems a simple plot without hidden layers. As there are (currently) three more books to come I hope for more, but Cherryh doesn’t give hints that there is. I still want to find out what will happen next, so that’s a good thing, especially as I have the next books already.

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