I am not lost…

June 8, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: AMULET RAMPANT by M.C.A. Hogarth

Yup, it’s everyone’s favorite time again: time for Rion reviewing one of Micah’s books. Now, for the observant reader, you’ll remember my review of SOME THINGS TRANSCEND, the second book in the Princes’ Game series. This is book 3, and one I was a bit concerned about. I had some reservations about TRANSCEND, and I wasn’t sure how AMULET was going to clear them up.

But, as always, I trusted Hogarth’s deft hand, and she did not let me down.

The princes in question, Lisinthir Nase Galare and Jahir Seni Galare, have finally returned from their encounters regarding the Chatcaavan Empire, and not necessarily all for the better. Lisinthir is clinging to life, all the while waiting for the word that he can return to the Emperor and his Queen Ransomed. Jahir, meanwhile, has had his entire world shaken…and may be called into a war he has no desire to fight, particularly with Vasiht’h decidedly not being made for the battle either.

Battle fears aside, Jahir’s notion of himself and what he is capable of are shaken as well, something which Lisinthir has told Jahir he will assist with when they are both ready. However, ready is something Jahir’s not entirely sure he knows how to recognize…or if he’s willing to do such. And of course, above all of their heads lies to impending war between the Empire, and anyone who chooses to get in their way–or lands there anyway.

I’ve often joked with Micah, saying that if I were to be anyone in the Pelted universe, I’d likely be an Eldritch who’d spent too much time among the Harat-Shar: someone who is very reserved physically, often to a fault, but picked up enough of the people why lived around to have the desires deep with in them, and not know what to do with them, nor how to act on them if they wanted. What I see now is that I don’t need to be that–I empathize immensely with Jahir. We don’t have the same issues precisely (there’s no Sediryl in my life, and I don’t come from an entire race of people who discourage physical contact, for starters) but I see a large quantity of myself in him.

This realization, this connection to Jahir…this explains everything to me. This explains why I found TRANSCEND so uncomfortable–because it made Jahir uncomfortable. It put him far outside his comfort zone and left him with little to no choice on the matter. Lisinthir is a forceful person, more so directly from the jaws of the dragons, and Jahir is not used to force. He is not comfortable with force. And thus, seeing a loved character–seeing an image of myself in a twisted mirror–put the entire book on edge for me.

So in AMULET, as Jahir comes into himself–truly discovers who he is and that what he believed himself to be is not quite the travesty he feared–it eased me back into the characters. Even with the strange and somewhat terrifying revelations that he and Lisinthir come to, it is a book of acceptance of self–for Jahir, for Lisinthir, and for Vasiht’h. (Didn’t think I’d forgotten about him, did you? Far from! Vasiht’h’s plotline with Sehvi and her family is one I’m most excited about! I love Jahir and Vasiht’h more than pretty much anything else in the Pelted canon.)

I must admit, determining the cause of my discomfort and having it relieved was one of the best things I could have gotten from this book. It was disquieting, to say the least, after seeing so much of Hogarth’s work fill me with such joy (even the darker books; I find joy in the writing itself) and then to find this book–filled with my favorite characters–and have it make me wrinkle my nose. Now I can look back and see it for what it was: a perfect immersion of reader into character, so perfectly meshed that the reader couldn’t even see it. (Perhaps Jahir’s powers reach through the pages…?)

In addition to all of this (so many plot lines!) there is of course the on-going troubles in the Empire. The Emperor gone to the lines of battle, the Slave Queen-made-Queen Ransomed left with only a new weapon in the Knife…and a dangerous move for a female in the Empire to make looming over them all. I won’t go into details for fear of spoilers, but it’s fascinating to see the workings of the Empire from the position of the Queen.

AMULET ends on a dramatic cliffhanger, one that makes me glad that I’ve recently learned of Book 4 in the series, which just came out on Monday. You can expect a review of ONLY THE OPEN sometime in the nearish future. I have only the highest of hopes for the rest of the series.

Rating: ***** – Highest Recommendation

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