Friday, November 03, 2006

Review: Doppelganger by Marie Brennan

So, it seems that it's going to be a quiet week-end :P to start the week-end, here is another review :P I don't really remember where I first saw the book cover of Warrior and Witch, but I thought it was really a nice cover and I was curious :D This is the blurb on Chapters/Indigo online website:

When a witch is born, a doppelganger is created. For a witch to master her powers, the twin must be killed. But what happens when the doppelganger survives?

It wasn't much, but it still sounded interesting. So I got the book and at the same time, I went to look for the first book, Doppelganger (because, yes of course, it's a series). It took me awhile, but finally got my hands on it and for once, decided to read the series in order. Good decision :P so here is my review...

Doppelganger by Marie Brennan

Plot: 3.75/5
Enjoyment: 3/5

So where to start? Mirage is a Hunter that is often mistaken for a witch because of her red hair. Hunters are mercenaries trained in different schools, each with their characteristics and specialities. Their jobs range from being courrier to bodyguard to investigators to assassin. Her year-mate, Eclipse, has received a commission (which are very rare missions and reserved for the best) which requires 2 Hunters to investigate the death of a high-ranking witch. Reluctant to work for witch, Mirage still accept because she is bored.

Miryo has been studying all her life to become a witch. The day has finally come, but she must pass the Test. Although she succeeds, there is only one problem: her doppelganger still exists. When daughters of witches are born, a ritual is made where a doppelganger is created. Doppelgangers are basically a void shell of the infant that must be killed. Once doppelgangers are exposed to the starlight, they obtain a soul. If the doppelgangers survive, it would endanger their witches, as the witch would be unable to focus and utilize her magic. So if Miryo wants to become a witch who can use magic, she must kill her Doppelganger... the problem is... her doppelganger is Mirage, a hunter.... would Miryo has the skill? Or can they come up with another solution?

The plot is pretty clever and well constructed. Although WHAT the conspiracy is is easy to guess, how the story unravels and how the Hunters figure it out is quite unique. I mean, it makes sense for the Hunters to figure it out, because that's their job and their life... Normally, if it would have been a cop or PI in a contemporary novel, it wouldn't have work, so kudos to the author on that point... so she got the Hunters aspect very well... Unfortunately, she didn't succeed as well for the witches side. I mean, you barely get any info about what they do, why are they so feared and all. As for characters, there's basically three: Mirage, Miryo and Eclipse. I liked Mirage character, she's quite the typical tough girl, but at least, she really has the skills to back it off. She's strong and agile, she's smart and she's reckless, but she knows her strengths... Definitively not a TSTL heroine... I guess she's the one who saved the story :P As for Miryo, I found her too weak... she kept worrying and it was pretty annoying. Understandable, but still annoying. Eclipse is the guy of the story and well, you get very little info on him. In a way, it's quite sad, because he's really overshadowed by Mirage... she's the one who leads and he's the one who helps. By the way, if you're expecting romance, there's null. I guess there was no place for romance in this book. That's one reason why the enjoyment grade got bumped down.

The second reason is that, I thought the story was complicated and confusing. Part of the problem is the world building - not enough information. You're given very little bits of information and they're scattered in the story. Yes, you don't have the tedious first chapter that feed you so much information that you can't process it, but instead, you're lacking. I kept wondering if I missed a book and that the Doppelganger was perhaps not the first book. Luckily, there was a glossary, but still, having to go back and forth everytime to look at the glossary, it breaks your pace. How the witches are divided and function was also difficult to assimilate. Basically, there are 5 elements that the witches revered: Air, Void, Water, Earth and Fire... and so the witches are divided in 5 groups... Groups are called "Ray" and within that group, you can either be a Hand, Heart or Head (I don't remember the definition)... each function is call Path. Then, you have the leader of each path which are Keys and then, leader of each Ray, which are Primes... Confused? well I am... especially when it wasn't really explain. Then, to confuse you further, there's a whole bunch of Japanese names and honorific names... You know, the -san that Japaneses tag to the end of almost everyone's name... well here, you have an honorific tag for normal witches, for each different leader and so on. Enough to get lost.

Oh, I've skimmed through Warrior and Witch, although I don't plan to read it right away (need a break to relax my mind). Plot still sounds complicated and unfortunately, no romance T_T


  1. No romance=sucks donkey balls. LOL With a concept like this one, the doppelganger for a which, there is a LOT of potential for some action. hehe

    I hate glossaries in fiction. I don't read them. It makes me feel like there's going to be a test at the end, and I don't like tests. LOL I don't begrudge an author having a glossary-I just won't read it. :P

  2. Ames - I know! I mean, I don't care how much romance there is, as long as there is some. which really wasn't the case here. And true, there is a lot of potential for action and there was a lot of action, but somehow, it didn't grip my attention.

    As for glossary, I'm partial... I mean, in this book, it made sense, because she couldn't fit all the information in her storyline... but at the same time, that's a flaw... because the reader has to stop and go back to the glossary. the best is when the glossary is just a reminder. but I can understand your feeling :P who wants to be tested on a book?

  3. I'll just say that I agree with Ames 100% ;) I know, what a shock. I'm glad you warned me - there are only so many books *without* romance or sex I can read in a millenium!