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Posts Tagged ‘Narrative’

Review: The Ambassador’s Mission (Traitor Spy Trilogy Book 1), By Trudi Canavan

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

The Ambasador’s Mission, released in April 2011, is the first book in the continuing saga of Sonea, and a few other characters, from Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician Trilogy (circa 2001).  We rejoin Sonea, her son, and Cery for further adventures.

The Ambassador’s Mission, as far as its own story goes, drags.  The narrative is chalked full of superfluous text that drowns out more important aspects in favor of droning political intrigue.  When read as a continuation of The Black Magician Trilogy, some of this is forgivable.  But, anyone picking up this story without having read the former will be seriously wanting for explanations.
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I Finally Did It, I Downloaded Martin’s Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Fire And Ice Book 1)

December 9, 2012 1 comment

A lot of people might find it odd, but I have never read George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice Book 1).

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Book Review: Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns

December 3, 2012 13 comments

Prince of Thorns, the debut novel my Mark Lawrence, follows the story of Jorg, a Prince with a particularly mean streak.  At the age of nine, Jorg watches as his mother and brother are brutally murdered.  He then embarks on a quest for vengeance.  It ‘s a story that has been told, and told successfully, many times.

I think that one thing is clear, Mark Lawrence has a way with words and uses them compellingly to set scenes.  But I also think one other thing is also very clear – in Prince of Thorns, that same talent is not used to give depth to the characters or the overall plot.  Prince Jorg is about as one-dimensional as they come.  His gratuitous callousness is never truly counterbalanced with a desire to feel sorry for him (which would have given him other dimensions he so sorely needed). Read more…

Book Review: Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The world is a dangerous place at night.  Demons (corelings) from the core roam free.  The only things holding them back are wards that must be meticulously cared for or else those hiding behind them become food for the demons.

The Warded Man by Peter Brett follows three different characters (Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer) as they grow up and mature in this world; each learning how to combat the demons in their own way.  At times, the story needlessly diverges from these characters and sucks in a few other, not even secondary, characters to provide some other points of view, but these are the three main characters.  These other POV characters appear for just a brief enough period of time that they don’t detract greatly from the narrative. Read more…

Book Review: The Choosing, written by Jeremy Laszio

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Choosing from Mr. Laszio in exchange for an honest review. 

WARNING! May contain spoilers!

The Choosing, I’m sorry to say, had a very, very difficult time even registering on my scale of 0 to 5 stars.  For the first three quarters of the book, I was seriously considering giving it less than one star.  The short reasoning for this is that this story is simply not on par with what I expect from a fantasy novel.  I think my standards are fairly reasonable.  But honestly, The Choosing feels like an unedited, or only lightly edited, draft of a story.  It is missing so much.  It does tell a story, but stumbles in doing so.  And in my opinion the story is not that solid.
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Book Review: Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

Feast of Souls is the first book in the Magister Trilogy by C.S. Friedman. The story is that of the first woman to ever master the magical arts and transcend from life depleting witchery to the immortal life of a magister. Here name is Kamala.  Well, that is how the story starts anyway. Later on we learn of the threat of beasts known as Soul Eaters returning.

Ok, bluntly, I was not thrilled with the way the book shifted away from Kamala’s point of view so often. The narrative did so at the expense of making her seem like a secondary, perhaps even tertiary, character in her own story. I think that most of what the other characters were used for could have been transmitted to the reader without going in and seeing it through their eyes. That feeling still sits with me even now. Read more…

Review: Theft of Swords by: Michael J. Sullivan

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Warning! May contain spoilers!

Michael J. Sullivan creates a set of superb characters in Royce and Hadrian, a pair of thieves who get a little too greedy at times. Or at least Hadrian does, and he then drags Royce along with him. I don’t think I can stop saying enough good things about the way the two main characters are constructed, how they maintain character all the way through the novel and are delightful to follow. Royce and Hadrian are surrounded by a cadre of supporting characters that by the end of this first volume have various levels of depth and are used to develop the level of political intrigue that is going on within the story’s world. Some of the other characters appear cartoonish. But this is not because of poor writing. It is merely, in my opinion, because of trying to cram so much into the novel and delve into so many of the side relationships that affect what Royce and Hadrian are involved in. Perhaps in some places these departures from the story as seen from the viewpoint of the main characters could have been done without. Without these side trips I think the story would have flowed better.

While the story opens in an excellent fashion, I love the interaction between Royce and Hadrian and the hapless highwaymen they encounter, the first half of the book does slog along at times as huge boulders of back-story are dropped with a plop into the narrative. And there are points of droning dialogue recited by characters who just seemed to be waiting for an opportunity to expound upon what they know of a situation. There were points in the story where I kept thinking of Syndrome from the animated film The Incredibles who humorously quipped, “You sly dog! You got me monologuing!” because it seems so silly at times. But as the story unwinds, things get significantly better. The second half of the story is tighter and much more captivating thanks in large part to the back-story having been over and done with mostly in the first half. Back-story dropped in the second half of the book flows much smoother with the narrative. If you are struggling through the opening half I assure you it gets better towards the end of the opening act. I will not say that the story was not without points where I had to stop and forcibly make myself resuspend disbelief before continuing, but those moments are minor enough to be overlooked. They happen in every novel I have ever read.

I was however a little disappointed in the ending of the first book. The first book in the Riyria Revelations series is prime example of what is common today among epic fantasy series. It is a book that at the end of it really has no end. There is just the cliffhanger for book two to pick up from and you feel like you have fallen off a cliff between chapters. Major plot points remain unresolved. The final battle with the supposedly mighty beast is light, quick and seems to be more of an anti-climax than a true climax. It was just another point on a slow journey through the story and an invitation to buy the next book of the series. My personal preference is for a more solid resolution at the end of a book, even if it is part of a planned series. I understand however that this is the current trend of the industry.

At the half-way point of the book I was not sure if I would be interested in the continuing adventures of Royce and Hadrian. By the end of the book I was much more interested in what these two thieves would be up to in the future. But not right away. I have put book two of the Riyria Revelations on my “to read list” but have opted to take a break and read some other stories before picking it up. The first book was just too long for me to want to delve right in to another tome on the same subject and I need some time to unwind from it.

I give Theft of Swords an over all rating of three and three quarters stars out of five placing it solidly above your typical fantasy story but not quite in the level of the more elite books of the genre. It was oh so close to getting four stars at times but the issues I discussed drew it back down from that level.

Book Review: Vengeance (The Tainted Realm #1) by Ian Irvine

March 3, 2012 1 comment

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Note: I am using the Unabridged version for this review.

I want to start off by saying that I give Ian Irvine credit for creating a vast world with some very deep and potentially intriguing history in his book Vengeance. There are certainly a lot of moving parts to the story and the world took a long time to come into complete focus.

However I am not going to mince words beyond that. I was overall disappointed by this novel. It feels like it was rushed to press and not polished in many places.  In other places there was a lot of dwelling on minutia and then an often repeating of it.  The story started out more than all right with the heroine, Tali, watching her mother being murdered. But alas the narrative never regained that opening flare. It tried. It just never succeeded.

Shortly after the start, the story suffered from the introduction of too many characters and the flipping and flopping between their points of view with frequent rewinds past already occurred events. To me it seemed like the entire story tried to accomplish too much, too fast and was scattered. It covered too many characters and faltered in trying to flush them out, not succeeding until very late in the story arc. Character development seemed haphazard and random. The characters themselves, other than Tali, often were very ill defined until long after they were introduced taking simply too long for the characters to fill in. For example, I never felt like Rix was a strong warrior until he and Tobry were in the mountains fighting for their lives well after he was introduced and (pardon the pun which you will get if you read this book) painted strongly as a brooding, artistic type at first. I just think his initial introduction to the story, despite being a key character, was weak. Other characters which were introduced seemed too much along for the ride despite teasing their importance.

By far the character of Tali was the strongest part of this story. But despite her, throughout the book I felt like I was in the middle of a Tuesday night AD&D session. It really did not feel like a story that was happening organically and logically. Rather it seemed as if it were being guided by the invisible hand of a Dungeon Master unwilling to let the characters go off in their natural directions. In my opinion the characters just suddenly realized things too often (flashes out of the blue) which caused them to change course or offered up information that I just found unbelievable to have been realized so suddenly. Also, the constant escaping from harrowing situation after even more harrowing situation after yet another encounter with certain death for all the main characters just drained me by the last third of the book. How many times can people cheat death? I don’t know. But this book certainly tries to find out the answer to that question. Ultimately I never felt that there was any real danger to any of the main character despite being in the middle of a war and their lives constantly, supposedly, based on the words that were put forth by the author, being in jeopardy. Even when Tobry is, once, again, presumed dead at the very end, I as the reader just cannot believe that he is as the novel closes.

As just the first book of The Tainted Realm Trilogy, I am left seriously pondering if book two should be on my reading list when it is slated for release later this year. Thankfully I don’t have to make that decision at this time. However I am inclined to say that I would only pick it up if there is nothing else to read that strikes my fancy when it is indeed released.

I give Ian Irvine’s Vengeance three out of five stars. It was not overly bad, despite its faults. Certainly not among the worst fantasy novels I have ever read. In my opinion however this novel is not for anyone of discriminating tastes in epic fantasy.