The first four books of the Deverry
series are a curious thing, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. I'll start out with the good stuff, namely its extensive use of Reincarnation
. I haven't often seen the concept being used as a backbone of the storyline the way it is here. Especially the first book is really good in this regard, showing how the actions of people can come back to bite them in the behind in their later lives. the second and third books connect the previous lives less well to the present storyline, however, and the final book ditches the past life section altogether. We'll have to see how the next cycle does with the reincarnation element.
Characters are well drawn, if a little simplistic at times, but my main problem is the villains: they are almost cartoonishly evil, actually calling themselves stuff like "The Dark Brotherhood". What exactly set them on the path to evil is not clear, except in the case of Sarcyn, who is (in the revised version, that is) one of the better developed characters. The Big Bad
's motivation is never entirely clear. The protagonist, Jill, does have to make a hard choice in the end, and to her credit the author does not give her an easy way out.
My biggest problem is the worldbuilding, however. Based on medieval Europe and containing elves and dwarves, it doesn't seem to bring anything new to the table, even for a series written in the eighties. The reincarnation angle is not quite enough to make it feel fresh. All in all, I think I liked this series even if I didn't really love it and I will be checking out the next sub-series.