Saturday, March 3, 2012

Indie Book Review: Prophecy Of Kings: The Trilogy

Prophecy of Kings: The Trilogy got added to the To Be Read list after seeing a 'Please Review My Book' thread on Amazon. I read the first chapter, it looked good, and onto the list it went.

Months later (because I'm not setting any speed records for book reviewing) I picked it back up again.

I didn't finish the trilogy.

I read all the way through the first book, and it's okay. There's nothing terribly wrong with the story or the plot. But it's not great, and the characters didn't do much for me. It's a very basic, generic high fantasy: A Young Prince With A Destiny teams up with the Recovering Alcoholic Warrior. They both get roped into a dubious quest by The Dark Mage. Eventually they're befriended by The Good Elf. There's an overarching plot involving the return of Great Evil and a lesser quest plot to see about Finding The Good That Can Save Us From Great Evil. Mostly though, book one sets the scene and introduces characters.

If that plot and those character types are your idea of a good time, grab a copy of this, you'll like it.

As for me, I'm a fan of character driven plot. And I like my characters smart. They can start off innocent and trusting (stupid), but they've got to have a pretty quick learning curve. It absolutely kills me to watch characters make the same mistakes over and over and over.

Which is part of why I drug through this book, reading a page or two at a time and feeling no compelling need to keep going. Kaplyn, The Prince With A Destiny, doesn't ever seem to learn anything. Now, by the end of Legacy of the Eldrich (Book One) that slow learning curve has bitten him, badly. So my hope is that in Dragon Riders (Book Two) he's finally learning. But I wasn't hopeful enough to do more than skim the first few chapters of Dragon Riders.

The world building is okay. Not great, not terrible. It's a pretty standard medieval-esque world filled with standard fantasy critters. The magical system was slightly off the beaten track, with the Dark Mage (technically a sorcerer) gaining his power by working with demons. The Elves (Alvalah) are all albinos, but besides that, they're the standard forest-dwelling, nature-loving, vegetarians.  There's a tiny bit of politics, but it's forgotten about nineteen sentences after it gets brought up.

The formatting and proofing is okay. It's not great. In my copy random squares pop up in the text. Why? I have no idea. It doesn't look like some sort of bad translation of a non-standard character. They're between words, not in the middle of them. It's not every page, or even every chapter, but it is often enough to make an impression. The proofing needed help, too. Mostly punctuation issues, the sort of thing that if you're into the story you don't notice, but if you're already dragging through it, sticks out big time.

The writing is (Are you sensing a theme, yet?) okay. It's competent. I'll forgive a lot for gloriously sparkling snark infested dialog, and that just wasn't there. And I'm always happy to see beautiful word choice, and that wasn't there, either. Once again, it's not bad, there's nothing terribly wrong with any of this. But there was nothing about the writing that made me want to keep turning pages, either.

On a story edit side, I'd say the Quest For Good to Save Us plot line could have used some more urgency. We're told the Great Evil will be showing up in sixty years. Which isn't precisely the sort of timeline that makes readers want to go ripping through the pages to see if the good guys save the day in the nick of time. We get some more urgency toward the end, which helps.

There's a nice almost twist at the end. Alert readers probably know it's coming from about the 80% mark, but the characters are genuinely surprised.  Actually the end is the best bit of the book, but slogging through 200 pages to get to the decent twenty pages didn't thrill me. And I'll admit that I'm still a bit fuzzy on what precisely happened in the end. Not that I can't tell you what happened in a blow by blow sort of way. I'm fuzzy on what precisely one of the characters thought he was doing at the end and why.

So, all in all, it's okay.  I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. I know fantasy readers come in many, many flavors, and this is a story that will appeal to some of them. Just not me.

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