The Red Glacier (Julia Gray 2002)

The Red Glacier.jpg

The Red Glacier is the fourth novel in the Guardian Cycle, which I have been reading. The book in itself was nothing too fancy, similar to the others and I was half tempted to abandon it but I am determined to review the full series so I resolved to press on. The book follows on after the last one. Terrel finds himself in the land of Myvatan where a brutal conflict wages the land, and only the land’s wizards seem to know the cause. Terrel goes about learning the location of the elemental but his progress is repeatedly impeded by the conflicting forces. To make matters worse the elemental itself is shaping up to be the deadliest challenge he has yet to face.

Like before the plot starts out slow. Terrel spends a lot of time hanging about with the new local characters in the new location he has travelled to. The main difference is that this time it isn’t entirely clear who he should be trusting since the people are involved in a civil war with a multitude of different agendas. In fact most of the novel is Terrel hanging around with people in the war. The disadvantage is that the whole war plotline seemed a bit convoluted. Perhaps it is because it all revolves around characters new to the story, meaning I’m not particularly invested in the people fighting on either side of the conflict. My only wish when navigating these parts was that Terrel would find a way to get to the elemental already, a feeling that I’m no stranger too since I had similar attitudes towards the previous two novels.

In terms of structure the novel is a carbon copy of the other two. Terrel meets new people. Terrel hangs around new people and tried to find the elemental’s location then deals with antagonistic forces who have some relation to the elemental. Then finally he enters a climax where he has to stop the elemental from destroying the land it is in. This is basically all he does at the core. While the conflict between the various forces puts Terrel in more danger than ever before, the general structure remains the same with little to no variation. In that respect the book was rather boring and made the conflict seem rather superficial since I already had a feel for what was going to happen.

As for the overall plot I still have no idea what’s going on. This is kind of bad, when you consider that this is the second to last book. There should be something setting up the finale but instead all we get is something about Alyssa being sick and returning to Vadanis to help her. Nothing about his quest is any clearer and no clue is given as to the final threat Terrel will have to face in the next book. This was a huge let down to me, in part because I expected it would at least tell us a little bit about what the hell is going on before thrusting into the series’ conclusion. To say I was disappointed was a bit of an understatement.

Overall the novel is the same average stuff, more so than usual. In fact if anything it was disappointing because of it. Like I mentioned, this is in part because I expected some kind of foreshadowing about the next book. In my opinion the last book in a series should in some way set up the finale and give us a clue as to the final threat the characters will have to face. Then novel does none of that and I felt like it suffered a lot as a result. Reading the same plot over and over again has become very tiring and I hope that the last book will offer some kind of pay-off for all this monotonous drivel I’ve had to put up with. Overall I can’t say I’m too optimistic about its prospects.

SCORE: 3/5

IN A WORD: DISAPPOINTING

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