Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Scriviners Tale The Scrivener's Tale
by Fiona McIntosh

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Deborah Knox

A stand alone novel, The Scrivener’s Tale by Fiona McIntosh is a return to the world of Morgravia previously explored in Fiona McIntosh’s novel series The Quickening.

The novel opens on an ex-child psychologist turned bookseller in modern day Paris and a solitary monk of a religious sect living in the fantasy world of Morgravia. It is in Morgravia where most of the story takes place with the modern day protagonist transported across worlds soon after becoming involved with an intriguing psychiatric patient. The story then becomes an epic tale exploring identity across two worlds.

This book began with great promise; I loved the early descriptions of Paris, its neighbourhoods, the bookstore and the food. I was quickly drawn to the character of Gabe Figaret with his past tragedies and intriguingly real daydreams. By contrast, the early story set in Morgravia did not interest me at all. The protagonist here is a young monk, secluded from the world enduring hardship and training to overcome tests of his physical and mental strength well beyond normal human ability. He is isolated from Morgravia’s people and their concerns and so I found this to be a slow introduction to the world which is the setting for the major part of the story. When Gabe is then transported from Paris to Morgravia, he too is distanced from the world, forced deep inside his own mind watching another control his own body.

For a standalone novel in an established world, I appreciated the effort of bringing the reader into the world with new characters. The world felt as though it had a history, which although was not a requirement to understand The Scrivener’s Tale would add to the story. I can imagine that those who love The Scrivener’s Tale will seek out The Quickening to spend more time in the world. And I hope that those readers will be well rewarded as while reading this book I was frequently given the impression that the original tale of Morgravia as told through The Quickening would be more interesting than the one told in The Scrivener’s Tale.

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