Sunday, December 5

The Silver Hand - a review

The Silver Hand by Stephen R. Lawhead

The second book in the Song of Albion trilogy, and, for me, the strongest book in the trilogy.
Before I give the spoiler warning I will tell you this: This is one of my favorite books told in first person. Lawhead does something completely surprising and dangerous, but it works. Either read past the spoilers or pick up the book for yourself to find out (I recommend the later to begin with).

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Paradise War and The Silver Hand.
The Silver Hand takes place immediately after The Paradise War. The first thing I should note is that the POV changes. While the first book is told first person from Lewis (now Llew), this book is told first person from Tegid’s perspective. I also will not be detailing the plot as much as I did in The Paradise War and will be offering more of what I liked/disliked.

First of all, Lawhead is a master at descriptions. In reading this book I can completely envision this world. I can almost smell the sea and hear voices of the characters. This is made even stronger less than a quarter of the way through the story.

What happens?

Prince Meldron, envious over his father’s throne and enraged that Tegid is about to hand the kingship to Llew leads his war band to take over. During this violent regime change Llew’s right hand is cut off (a maimed man cannot be king) and Tegid is blinding. Yes, the narrator is now blind. For much of the book Tegid relies on his sense of smell and hearing as well as Llew describing the scene for him. And despite this availability to have Llew describe everything, it does not feel as if it burdens the dialogue. In fact, much of it deepens Llew’s character as we can see Llew becoming even more a part of the world his is in. Also, Tegid is granted an ‘inner’ eye, a gift that seems to be from Albion’s deity that allows him visions of the present. Though this may seem cop-out, it is used sparingly and Lawhead follows a strict rule when granting Tegid this ‘inner’ eye.

Second, Lawhead works the prophecy from the first book well into the narrative. Though they can be cliché, Lawhead was not wrote a interesting one, but it unfolds slowly over the course of the book, and at its conclusion it still isn’t completely satisfied. Generally when I see prophecies a few things are addressed in the beginning of a story and then the rest is rushed at the end. Not so here.

Depictions of evil are done incredibly. As a reader, I get a great feel for how evil Meldron is. His seizure of kingdom is literally destroying Albion It is a strong metaphor for the corruption of power and yet it never feels like an overwhelming metaphor. Instead I grow anxious to see the final confrontation. For here is an evil that is truly powerful and that may be more than a match for the hero. That tension is held magnificently.

I don’t really have many complaints about this book. If I did it is that it felt episodic. After being cast out, Tegid and Llew begin to raise up their own army, slowly but surely. However, a lot of the events that happen feel almost like a film montage only in chapter form. They are written well and there is tension maintained and built, which is why I did not find it distracting.


9/10




I received no form of compensation to review this book.

2 comments:

  1. Hey! Have you read the Skin Map by Lawhead yet? If you haven't, I bet you'd like that one, too: http://bit.ly/9dXVKQ

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  2. I have read it. I actually didn't like it though. It was too much like The Paradise War in structure for me.

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