To Ride Hell's Chasm

Like many, the holidays have me busier than usual so I'm pulling a review out of the vault to share with you all. I've noticed that although fantasy is one of my favorite genres, I haven't doe a great job of representing my love for it on this blog.  So today I want to share a review I wrote back in 2007 of a really great fantasy novel that is not nearly as well known as it deserves to be.

To Ride Hell's Chasm is an epic tale with many elements of classic fantasy - evil sorcerers, a strong sworded warrior, and a princess in peril. What would seem cliche however is woven into a fresh and exciting story under the expert pen of Janny Wurts. Her sorcerers wield demonic power instead of magic wands; the warrior is a foreigner mistrusted and suspected of evil; and the princess is a strong willed fighter and horsewoman.

At first I was intimidated by the expanse of To Ride Hell's Chasm. However, Wurts artfully handles a magnificent world and paints a rich setting for readers. Her characters are complex and multi-faceted and while reading the book I got the sense of making new friends - at first I wasn't sure about some but as more dimensions of their personalities were revealed, they grew on me and I was almost sad to part with them at the end. One of the very unique features of this book was Wurts's use of horses - that sometimes stole the spotlight from their human companions. The descriptions were so well written that I could almost hear them galloping in my head.

Some of the exposition in the beginning of the book slowed the pace slightly but for me, all the details served to solidify the characters in my mind. Especially on reflection, I think the characters were more realistic for having back stories and their early interactions revealed a lot of dimension to them. Also, once the action really took off, it was a thrilling journey that concluded as brilliantly as it began. 
Coming across this book review reminded me how much I enjoyed the writing and world building of Janny Wurts.  I've been meaning to look into other works that she has written and although I have not yet done so, (curses to the never-shrinking TBR list!) hopefully this review from the past might encourage some other fans of high fantasy to check out her work as well!

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