The Morgaine Cycle

By C.J. Cherryh

The Morgaine Cycle began in 1979 with the publication of Gate of Ivrel, but I didn’t encounter the series until 2016, when all 4 books of the series were long since published. Reviews of the series compare it favorably to the Lord of the Rings, and I eagerly sat down to begin my copy of The Complete Morgaine.

Full disclosure: I only made it half-way through book 2 before throwing in the towel. I enjoyed book one, but ultimately found the world to be pretty bleak and unsatisfying, and that dynamic didn’t seem to be changing by book 2. To be fair, part of that is the intentional tone of the story, but it just never quite clicked for me. Much of the plot development felt jarring; characters frequently engage in activities that seem ill advised, or swear oaths that end up constraining their behavior in dramatic ways, or otherwise make decisions for reasons that are difficult for a reader to fathom. The cast of characters was also quite small, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to “epic fantasy.” For a world to feel truly lived in, I think it needs more than a handful of named characters.

I’m sure there are plenty of other people for whom this series would be right up their alley, but it’s just not my cup of tea. If your tastes run similar to mine, then my advice to you is: skip it.

Rating: 1- Skip It.

3 thoughts on “The Morgaine Cycle”

  1. I disagree. I admit that I haven’t read them in awhile (as I started them as they were originally published), but I remember being enthralled by the entire narrative. Maybe I was drawn to the idea of a female protagonist (remember, these came out at a time long before strong female leads were considered acceptable), but the arc of the series was awesome! And Cherryh is one of my always-go-to authors!!!

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    1. Hi Steve!
      It’s fitting that you commented, since I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Cherryh on your bookshelf. After reading your comment, I cast my mind back to the point at which I put down Book Two. My memory is that Morgaine and Vanye were in the midst of a lengthy flight from danger, and a lot of attention was being paid to how tired and hungry they were. Now that I’m reflecting on it, it occurs to me that I’ve always struggled with similar sections of stories- my energy tends to drain along with that of the characters. It’s typically easier to push through it if that particular story is interwoven with other plots, and harder when, like with Morgaine, our perspective stays on the suffering characters throughout.

      With that said, maybe I’ll have to give it another try!

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