Talyn, by Holly Lisle

I have been following Holly Lisle’s excellent short courses and bought her PDF book, Create a Plot Clinic.

Then it occurred to me. I am learning from a writer whose books I have never read. What if I hate her novels? What if her writing is poor, sloppy, uninteresting or just plain bad?

I was seized with an immediate need to find a Holly Lisle novel and read it.

This was not as easy as it sounds. Holly is American and I couldn’t find her books in our local bookshops. Neither was she on our library’s shelves. But, I tracked one of her books down to a library in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire and ordered it.

So, what’s it all about?
Talyn is a female soldier experiencing a crisis of national and personal identity. The story is set in a world Holly Lisle has created. There is magic and Talyn uses magic to defend her city and her country. There is also sex – quite a lot of sex and some violent sex – so this book is not for children or for prudes.

Points of View
Although Talyn herself narrates the story, some parts of the book are written from the point of view of another person; an enemy soldier. There is no device used to do this and sections of the story flip-flop between Talyn’s first person narrative and the soldier’s third person sections. (I believe this story structure is unusual and, indeed, can’t think of another book where this happens.) Initially, this caught me by surprise, but the shifts were handled elegantly and I found the story was enriched as a result.

What I liked about Talyn.

  • The alternating point of view.
  • The page-turning adventures.
  • The sex scenes with a definitely female perspective.
  • The strong female lead.
  • The incredibly real world, created for this novel.

Holly Lisle talks in details about world building, for this book and others, on her website.

What I didn’t like about Talyn.

  • Um..
  • … hang on, let me think.
  • Maybe the book was a bit too long. There was a section in the middle that seemed unnecessary
  • Maybe the villain was a little bit OTT evil.
  • And I am never keen on magic as a device in books – although this is all the rage these days.

I am back on a mission again – to find another Holly Lisle book to read.

2 thoughts on “Talyn, by Holly Lisle”

  1. Hi, Ruth. I just found this blog post (yesterday morning, on your now defunct Blogger blog, just before my laptop was stolen—which is a different story—and I’m just getting to commenting here now). When I read it, I chuckled, because I came to Holly Lisle’s work the same way. For me, it started with the Character Clinic. Since then, I’ve read a number of her novels (as has my younger daughter), and loved every single one. But Talyn is still one of my all-time favorites.

    Glad to have discovered your blogs.


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