Saturday, March 29, 2014

Storm Glass - Maria V. Snyder (Glass #1)

Storm Glass (Glass, #1)
Let me begin by saying that Storm Glass was substantially better than Touch of Power, my last encounter with Maria V. Snyder's work.  However, it definitely has some serious flaws, which lead me to believe that either Poison Study, which I loved, wasn't actually as good as I remember it being, or that it was a one-hit wonder and Snyder has deteriorated since.

The plot of this book revolves around Opal Cowan, a young magician with powers linked to glass.  She first appeared in Snyder's Study series, and that's where the trouble begins.  Though this is the first book in a completely new trilogy, it absolutely cannot stand on its own.  Someone who had not read the entire Study trilogy would be utterly lost when faced with many of the characters and situations Opal faces.  Having read that first trilogy, I knew what was going on, but there was so much mentioned from it that was never explained that a new reader wouldn't know what was being discussed for a significant portion of the book.  While this means that readers of the first series don't have to hear a lot repeated, it also means that Snyder risks alienating new readers by leaving them dazed and confused about what's going on.

There are a couple of plot lines going on in this book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  One deals with the struggles of the Stormdance clan.  The glass orbs they use to trap the energy of storms have been sabotaged, and they're killing the dancers.  Opal, as a glass magician, is the obvious choice to help discover what's going on.  She's also the obvious choice to help disband a diamond smuggling and counterfeiting operation by telling which gems are glass and where they came from.  These plot lines intertwine, with characters coming and going and things generally progressing.  But about three quarters of the way through the book, Snyder introduces what looks to be another plot line, which relies entirely on material from the first three books.  Some of it is mentioned, very briefly and in passing, in Storm Glass, but not with enough sense.  Also, Opal says she's been having weird dreams related to this plot line ever since her return from the Stormdance lands, which doesn't make any sense because they're not mentioned anywhere before she announces she's been having them.  There is one weird dream she has, but it doesn't appear to be connected at all; apparently it was meant to be, but when it's actually mentioned as a tie-in, it just doesn't make any sense.

Opal is an interesting character in that she's not your typical kick-ass heroine.  She has some unique abilities, but she was also put through a lot of shit in the past, and it's left her with very little confidence in herself.  She doesn't believe that she can actually do anything worthwhile, so her development throughout the course of the story is interesting to watch.  Kade the stormdancer is awesome, and I wish he had been more prevalent in the book.  One of things I didn't like was Snyder's decision to implement the dreaded Love Triangle.  While Ulrick's character wasn't bad, I would have preferred him as a non-love interest.  He was moody and possessive and overall just not a good example of what should be looked for in a relationship.  And then when you throw in the weird Devlen element... Ugh.  I think this could have been de-complicated quite a bit.

The writing is a complicated mix.  I think it gets more complex as the book goes on, because it starts off very simplistic (not in a good way) but that might just have been me adjusting to how it was written.  I think Snyder does a pretty good job capturing Opal's emotions and thoughts, but the descriptions are somewhat lacking.  They're very much tell and very little show, and I think that might stem from the first person nature of the book.  (I generally really don't like first person narratives much at all.)

Still, I overall enjoyed this much more than Touch of Power, and I'll probably read the next book, Sea Glass, to see where Opal goes next.

3 out of 5 stars.

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