By: Derek Donais
Published: September 15, 2010
Before I even get a chance to talk about what happened in the book, I would like to take the time to talk about my number ONE pet peeve when I was reading this. This is not the author’s fault but I suspect it is more of the publisher’s fault.
STOP SPOILING YOUR OWN BOOKS WITH THE BACK BOOK DESCRIPTION!
This book’s description reveals that the main character, Jaren, is an An’Valir, a person who can summon magic without the use of metanduil- a refined metal, typically shaped in a small rock. It also explains that An’Valir are a rare type of magic user, only spoken of in legends and that no one living can train him unable to be trained by any living being. Pair this with the first chapter explaining how magic works and is setup in this universe, the reader ends up being nothing but frustrated for over half the book as Jaren is left wondering why he cannot summon magic despite being able to feel it and a need to use it, and the reader knowing full well WHY he is having these feelings and difficulties. Imagine if Star Wars was a book, and on the back of A New Hope, it told you that Luke goes off to train to be a Jedi and only Old Ben Kenobi can train him, because Ben is really Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the few remaining Jedi Knights from the Old Republic and also someone who taught Luke’s father and Darth Vader. And that while he is learning this, his uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are killed by Stormtroopers. Now you are left reading the book, just wanting to get past these points to see what really happens, rather than enjoying reading this first novel, the discovery of this new information and the shock over the death of Luke’s Aunt and Uncle. I simply could not enjoy the first half of the story because all I wanted to do was to get to the point where Jaren, and everyone else, knows he is an An’Valir because everything just felt frustrating knowing something this important straight off the bat that no one else in the story seemed to know. I would have been fine if the back cover had hinted at Jaren maybe having a different type of magic power, but stopping at giving a full description of what it was.
I found the changing of perspectives rather jarring, since they could happen multiple times within a single (often short) chapter. The perspective shifted between multiple characters and often these characters would be spread out and dealing with different situations. I would have much preferred that this shifting between characters be limited per chapter or have the chapters be limited to just what was happening in a given situation.
I suppose another reason why I did not like the frequent perspective changes is that I spent more time reading from a male’s point of view and listening in on to his thoughts then I did on a female’s. You do end up reading from the male perspective the majority of the time and after just reading back-to-back books where the majority of the time I was reading from a female perspective, it should be a bit of a jolt to my brain. But I have read from the male perspective before and not felt odd about it. It could also be because I never felt personally connected to Jaren (being the main character after all) or felt him to be relatable. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am an older sister to a younger brother and unable to relate to the struggles of having an older sibling. Or maybe I was just unable to see myself in that world, making Jaren even more un-relatable.
Another aspect of the book I did not like was the governing and monitoring of the magic of the universe by a monotheistic religious order, especially when said monotheistic religion is the only one mentioned in the book and it hits many themes found in Christianity. My own religious views aside, I do not believe a single religion should be governing, monitoring, and developing an institution such as magic. It would be if like Christianity was the only religion here and it watched over staged theatre. Can there be religion in staged theatre? Sure, why not. But I believe the group themselves should be allowed to monitor it free of that religious control and monitoring, as there may be good people out there with the potential to bring wonderful characters to life on the stage that do not believe in the same religion as you. I also found it odd that there seems to be only two “sides” in this world’s religion: white and black, Good and Evil. Either you believe in one side or you believe in the other. There seems to be no option for believing neither or believing in something entirely different. Also, things can rarely be placed simply in two categories of good or evil. Bad people can do good things. But this book seems to put people only in the camps of good or evil and that is rather disappointing.
Other than that, I found the book to be mildly enjoyable. There are not any characters I want to smack across the face, I enjoyed the relationship between Jaren and his sister Morgaine and how it develops through the book, was intrigued by the character Iselle who seems to be more than she lets on, and how the author did not hold back in showing the many facets of death (beheading, torture, etc) despite the younger audience level, though he never goes into graphic details. I did read through it in a day but that was more because I wanted to get through it and see where it left me, rather than being unable to finish it and frustrated with the cliff-hanger. My cats had no troubles drawing my attention away from this book. There is a second book to this series but I do not think it will be something I will be reading any time soon or seeking out to read. Though if the author decides to write another book not related to this series, I would pick it up for a read.
But seriously publishers, knock it off with this spoiling of your own books crap.