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Publisher: Victor Gollancz (Orion)
Release Date: June 2004
ISBN: 0575074434
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre:   Fantasy
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

The Skein of Lament
Book II of the Braided Path 
By Chris Wooding

   The Weavers of Saramyr (also reviewed on this site) introduced us to the vividly drawn oriental land of Saramyr and its destructive magic. The second in her trilogy picks up the tale of Kaiku, Mishani and Lucia as they try to stop the evil Weavers in their quest to rule the land. They have already uncovered part of their plot, but more is still to come and all of it worse. A new emperor rules, but other nobles lust for power, and strange monstrous creatures stalk the earth. Lucia has gathered many followers but in this cause everybody seems to have their own agenda.

     This is a fast-paced and exciting fantasy, replete with interesting and motivated characters and set in a well-realized world. We even get to see a bit more of it this time, going beyond Saramyr to learn of other equally exotic races and their ways. The aspect of this series that I enjoy the most though is Wooding's subtle tweaking of this fantastic Willow Pattern world, which makes it seem at times more akin to a news bulletin than a fantasy novel. These folk carry guns and plant bombs. Napalm falls and terrorists fight with corrupt governments. Even the magic at times seems more akin to illegal genetics and bio-weaponry, and this makes the whole thing seem very immediate and realistic. Fans of Dune will love the clash of the noble houses and all the intrigue, but using fantasy to mirror current affairs is a masterstroke. More, please; this makes the Tolkeinesque style seem old fashioned.