Radcliff Durnhast, the Destroyer, the most powerful Summoner and the Mage Commander of the Caladon army, was found guilty of terrible war crimes. His sentence would be death. Should have been death. But the Seer from Westpire, Amira, had other plans. Led by a vision foretelling that this cruel man would ultimately save the world, she pled for another sentence. And so Radcliff's memory was erased, morning after morning. Centuries of torture came and passed, until an abominable Evil started swallowing life and magic, and Amira came to his rescue in order to help him fulfill his destiny. But the potential savior with memory loss, loathed by the very people he's supposed to save, is a burden and a blessing Amira never expected. In a race against time, with the help of unlikely allies and non-consistent visions, Amira and Radcliff set on a perilous journey that will determine the fate of life itself.
The Summoner and the Seer is a sword & sorcery novel focused on the inner turmoil of the main characters. Amira and Radcliff are wonderfully fleshed out; the war raging in Radcliff's mind, the frustration, hurt and anger arising out of his predicament, as well as the struggles of memory loss are particularly well depicted. At first I was afraid that the story would become repetitive, that with Radcliff being introduced to the same people again and again, but the execution regarding this department was solid and successful. Amira was also an interesting character, facing the conflict deriving from co-operating with the man that murdered her family and later falling for him, while the clock was ticking and the very essence of life was endangered. Speaking of which, I admired the way Evil was portrayed; its foul nature, its miasma, they gave you goosebumps and made your stomach clench with disgust and fear. The sense of urgency and danger, the need to move on, to do something to defeat it, especially towards the end, and the occassional hopelessness that took over the heroes, they were infectious and a powerful incentive to finish the story and read its conlcusion.
While The Summoner and the Seer was a decent novel (without grammatical errors, and generally well-written, which is fundamental on my agenda), there were some things that prevented me from truly connecting with it. The first was the lack of worldbuilding; I wanted more insight into the land of Caladon, its magic system, its history, its tribes (the Shae were a great opportunity to do so, but they never reached the peak of their potential). The author chose to reveal only the information that was absolutely necessary and vital for the story to move on, and even then there were gaps in my understanding of this world. Moreover, during the first half of the book, the characters were wandering without a specific purpose; there was, of course, the abstract target to defeat an unknown force, but the focus was on the interactions between them and the details of their journey. Plotwise, some incidents and concepts were fairly convenient or irrelevant, e.g. the fact that most of the secondary characters had the same lifespan with the protagonists (more than a thousand years), thus enabling the author to show the hatred towards Radcliff as if it were fresh. In the end, the entire experience felt like a recipe that got the ingredients right, but it was missing salt, pepper, and all those spices that would stimulate the taste; like a body that had its organs intact, but it needed to be infused with spirit.
If you want your fantasy character driven, interwined with romance and a quest to save the world, you will likely enjoy this book. I wish C. Gold all the best in the competition and her future endeavors.