Friday, August 10, 2007

THE HIDDEN WORLDS by Kristin Landon - Final Review

My one word description of THE HIDDEN WORLDS? Tense.

From the time Linnea first set foot on Nexus, the novel held my attention to the last page. I'm not saying that the first few chapters were slow -- not at all. But the novel's true conflict and action only started when Linnea set Iain's life into a tailspin by showing up unannounced, claiming to be his servant.

The novel starts when a ship is lost at sea, thus dooming the village that depends on it for its survival. Linnea and her family evacuate the village, going to an overcrowded city where jobs are scarce. Then, Linnea's sister tells her of a family secret in the form of a mysterious cylinder. Linnea takes the secret to a government bureaucrat with whom she has become friendly, and together they hatch a scheme to use the secret as leverage against the Pilot-Masters to compel them to renew a trade contract with her world.

In short, she wants to bribe them.

Well, it turns out that the government bureaucrat has just the thing she needs to get to Nexus, and it has been waiting for someone in her family to claim it for years. It is a labor contract. With Iain. Who has no idea of its existence.

I'm still not sure of the motives behind the labor contract storyline. But then, neither does Linnea, so I can hardly quibble with that.

In earlier posts, I mentioned that I found the birth restrictions that the Pilot-Masters utilized unrealistic. Well, as it turns out, the plot does address this discrepancy, but it still leaves much a mystery. However, I can hardly find fault with that, since this book is the first of a series. I must be patient. All will be explained in time. I'm also interested in finding out why a society of men would agree to the restrictions that they live under, not to mention why women would agree to be shut out, entirely.

I found Landon's prose utilitarian, in keeping with the gritty story. Her writing was entirely transparent and her dialog flowed effortlessly. I would call it a character-driven story, except that term usually relates to the protagonist and his or her motivations. The characters who drive this story are definitely the villains. Throughout much of the story, the protagonists seem like driftwood in a maelstrom, almost powerless to resist the forces around them. Through the self-sacrificing actions of those around them, they finally find a way to prevail, at least in a small way.

And something that I wondered about turned out to be true. The Pilot-Masters are guilty of perpetuating more than one lie. I was particularly happy with Iain's response to the discovery of this second lie. It made me like him more.

As for the contents of that mysterious cylinder? At the end of the novel, it is still a mystery.

Amazon USA, Canada and UK


L. A. Green said...

Great review, Tia. I'm intrigued. Would you say this leans more toward Sci-Fi or Fantasy?

Tia Nevitt said...

It is definitely science fiction. The ability to pilot a ship relies on some mysterious inborn talent that you either have or you don't have. That's the closest thing to a fantasy element that the novel has.

L. A. Green said...

OK. Another one for my MRL (must read list). :)

Tia Nevitt said...

I hope you enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Me, too!