“Disclaimer: I got this book for free, albeit, from the looks of it, I probably got it free from Smashwords. This review has been posted on Amazon and re-posted here for everyone's benefit. I do also find it amusing that the Author claimed he thinks he can do better than other authors when he realised he was skipping sections to read from subplot to subplot when he's made his book similarly disenchanting (if not worse).
When I first got this book, I will freely admit that I got it and was curious because it was free, was within a genre I knew I would like and thought I couldn't fail very much if I keep within a genre I had like. I will tell you right now, I am so so wrong on the quality of the book that if this had been the first free book I have ever gotten, it would have been my very last.
Summary of the book and it's series: Boy got pulled out of his comfort zone, forced to grow up quick and become hero material, while finding his way back into comfort zone - but was never to be the same again.
What is wrong with this series:
- Firstly, it is laden with a lot of cliches. I can handle cliches when it is well set up but not like this. Firstly, it is completely fluffed up with inconsequential things, from the description of the trees or grasses and so on, to the somewhat redundant thoughts of the main character in the midst of a mundane, seemingly "normal" action. Yes, I recognise it can be hard without editors and all. However, considering how I have read enough free authors by now, I have come to realise that editing is hard, yes, but it is not impossible.
Considering an "interview" that I read via a link from the series' website, I can only hazard a guess that the author did not seriously edit the book because he couldn't care how the readers felt while reading it.
Then you think about the cliches that were given some thought but was never explored, e.g. the flawed hero approach. It fell so flat that the character came off as 2d.
- The storyline is so full of contradictions. James is such a smart and well read boy, figuring out magic and survival skills quite early into the journey. However, at various points through out the book, he not only failed to utilise the magic he knew, he fumbled at common sense thoughts. As someone pointed out, seeing Miko all gagged up, he still walked into the room and just got smacked around.
What pissed me of the most was the scene where he cried over this schoolmate of his that he left to die because he was a coward, apologising for being a coward and all. In the first few sections, James had no hint of care or concern for Seth for being missing. Yet him being shred to pieces caused him despair, depression and guilt? Shouldn't that "sensitive side" be there from the start then? and the crying itself just pissed me off in general, simply because of the focus on that action that generated nothing for the character for me. E.g. show some form of evolution for the character? fleshing out of the character?
- Character fleshing: as others have pointed out, many characters are quite 2d. Even the main character. And, as above, characters are full of contradictions too. Life's so easy and smooth sailing for the main character. Sure, James your "typical" flawed hero, but how come he got kidnapped so often and still suddenly got saved from a sudden spark of intelligence within him or others? how did money just dropped from the sky from kind people? seriously? no one likes mages, yet the first person who met him gratefully gave him 1000gold from a bounty?
- the "plot" or lack of it drove me nuts. it's gotten to a point where I am barely skimming the pages so I could find the exciting bits or maybe some answers to my questions... and also an indicator of when and where the book will reveal the answers to my questions (seeing how this is meant to be a series). I will explain why later, but what I am trying to get at is this: there's only so much sleep, stew and inns I can read about, on top of fights. Alot of things were not explained that could be explored further for the sake of the story, yet it wasn't so that the character could "respect" people's privacy and get on with his sleep/stew/inn/fight. hell, even the fights kept dragging out for a bit without much explanation as to the hows and whys. 50% through this book, james has been smacked around a few times yet the only thing that could have gotten him into trouble is because this dodgy lord found him in his grounds. so... what? give up some sort of bait for us to want to know why?!?!
- there simply was not much bait in the whole storyline in general to keep me from wanting to read more.
at the end of the day, the main bait in the whole storyline was the idea behind it. I liked the idea, part of the reason why I downloaded it. I rushed through the book thinking that, perhaps, I would start to like it more halfway down the line. but at 50%, I am despairing, and then I scoured around the net to tell me something positive about this book and I found despairingly few reliable sources of delight. So, I am going to put this down at 50% with some regret. I have disliked books before, but I have rarely ever stopped reading part ways and this is going to be one of those.
To Mr Pratt, this review has a one star (at all) not because Amazon wouldn't let me put a no-star (which I had, at some point, wanted to use for other things). I applaud the idea, even if it's not fantastic or original, but I love storylines relating to that idea. however, your writing skills needs to expand further and an editor will surely help. Even if the editor is your wife, kids, family - someone who can tell you where it's simply not working.
However, as a hint, I will say this: 2-3 years for the whole 7 books in the series is simply ridiculous. You may think you are saving the readers from having to wait, but it also means sacrificing the quality of the story to suit something else. There is a reason why even the quickest of books can take up to a year to go through the full process of thoughts to prints. Do not mock the process but take that hint.”
~pAnDaReN~ wrote this review Wednesday, December 15, 2010.