Author: Sebastien De Castell
Category: Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date: March 6th, 2014
The start of this book was absolutely amazing. Then something happened that just sort of killed it. There was no specific event, it was just “OMFG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVAAAR!” then gradually it comes to a point where it’s just….not. It’s hard to quantify what exactly went wrong.
So first we will talk about what went right, what made it amazing to start with.
There was a The Three Musketeers meets The Lies of Locke Lamora feel to the story at the start. The banter between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti was hilarious and each of their voices was unique. Falcio, the leader. Kest, the stone-faced humorless swordsman. Brasti, the archer who is always looking for a good time. There was all the humor and cleverness that you come to expect from the Musketeers or the Gentlemen Bastards.
And if you have to give this author credit for any one thing, he sure knows how to write a badass fight scene!
Which made it really disappointing when the big sword fight at the end was completely skipped and fought “off-screen.” All the other characters run off to make their escape while one stays behind to fight a fight that they are 99.9% sure they are going to lose. Then just….shows back up a little bit later. “Hey guys, I totally won. Whew what a fight amirite?”
It almost made it worse that another character whispered something in his ear pre-fight to help him but we have no idea what it was. Then when he shows back up he makes a comment about how it turned out that hint really helped.
What….What was it???
Beyond this one scene, the book simply did not seem to have any direction. There was no “this is the problem so we should do this as the solution .” The characters just sort of drifted from one decision to the next with no real overarching purpose. There was a hint of a purpose, to find the King’s Charoites (whatever those are) but it was treated as more of a “we should really get around to that some day…” kind of thing than an actual purpose. And of course, they stumble on it by the end of the book without actually trying.
There seemed to be some issues with maintaining a character’s motivations and character. Shortly after meeting Valiana two characters are discussing how manipulative/not a good person she is. A few pages later one of the characters from that discussion makes a comment about how she is so sweet that she will be little more than a puppet if put on the throne.
This is one of very, very few books that I can honestly say hooked me on page 1. I loved Falcio’s voice, the style, the humor. The fight scenes actually read in such a way that I sometimes felt like I was watching Ezio from Assassin’s Creed kick butt.
Because of that combined with everything previously discussed, this book makes me feel sad more than anything. There was so much potential and I feel like the momentum that this story started with just evaporated partway through.
I am interested in reading the sequels because I feel like Castell could be a very strong writer and possibly become a fantasy genre staple. More direction and focus on a single plot would turn my rating around completely.
Ditto what she said.