Author: Nicole Murphy
Nicole Murphy is the next hot new talent on the fantasy genre scene. Power Unbound is her second novel and it is the second in the Dream of Asarlai series. I was a little concerned when I picked this book up because I am not really a fan of picking up a series in the middle, or any time after the first book really. Some series are difficult to get into if you haven’t joined them on the ground floor so to speak.
The Dream of Asarlai series isn’t one of them. Ok, so I will probably go looking for the first book, Secret Ones, after this but it isn’t essential for involvement in or understanding of the world that Nicole Murphy has created. I will also be keeping a keen eye out for upcoming volumes because I have to know what is going to happen next.
Nicole Murphy has created a complete race, and their world, right in the middle of the human world we are so comfortable with. The gadda have worked for centuries to keep themselves safe from the human world even though some of them have integrated quite well, and some of them have chosen to live their lives in the human realm, masquerading as humans.
The majority of Power Unbound is set in Sclossin, a gadda town in Ireland. Though Sclossin is a gadda town there is some human traffic. Murphy has melded the gadda and human worlds seamlessly. Right in the middle of demonstrations and discussions of the way the gadda use their power to perform tasks that humans take for granted like cooking, cleaning and moving from place to place Murphy will inject some basic human activities to remind you that this story is happening right now and could be happening right here.
Ione, one of our lead characters, has spent her life unable to access her power. I get the feeling that she always thought she didn’t have any which was very strange for a member of her family, the rest of them were quite powerful and adept at controlling their power.
Due to this lack of power Ione has found it necessary to rely on a very human existence. She has needed electricity to run her home, cooks and cleans for herself and travels in much the same way you and I do. A human career path has also been something she was required to follow – in her case, working with computers.
Much of the human element of Power Unbound originates around Ione. Her pre-teen son, like everyone else’s, is obsessed with video game consoles. Ione loves monster movies – herein called daikaiju which is a term I have never heard, thought that’s not to say it’s not a common term. It also becomes apparent that popular, current television shows that we all watch, or are at least familiar with, are also popular with the gadda.
Like most good fantasy the Asarlai novels have their own terminology and their hierarchy have titles that belong only to this series and the world of the gadda – as far as I am aware anyway. Though it does all have an Irish feel to it, it sounds like it would have originated in Ireland whether they are terms exclusive to the gadda or are known in the human universe we populate.
All of the characters are very easy to relate to and are working through situations that all of us mere mortals come in contact throughout our lives. In essence – they really aren’t that different from us. Except of course for their awesome store and use of natural power which allows them to never have to cook, fold washing or wash dishes. (How do I get to go live there?)
Come to think of it they really do get to avoid lots of the daily frustrations that we face every day. Imagine: no traffic jams, no public transport, no airport delays – the list could go on. But at what cost? This novel will offer a few answers to that question.
Power Unbound is a believable, yet fantastical, novel about a world that surrounds us yet exists under the radar. A world that will drag you in and keep you riveted from beginning to end. If, like me, Power Unbound is your introduction to Nicole Murphy and this series then I am sure you will be waiting, impatiently, for the next volume.
But, also like me, you will satisfy yourself with the search for Secret Ones, so you too can go back and find out where it all began.