Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: Quickbane

Today's review is of Quickbane: Episode One (The Vale Chronicles, Book 1) by Chelsea Starling

From the "back of the book:"

"Jesobel Vine wants nothing more than to be a typical Pyxian teenager. She wants to ride her horse, Firefly, shoot her bow, and fall in love with her dreamy best friend, Glyn. But Jesobel is marked not only as the future Royal Starkeeper of Pyxis, but as the Heart of Azimuth—the one to lead her people back to their lost realm—a burden too dangerous for daydreams. As Jesobel struggles to accept her destiny, reluctantly studying mystic magic, she becomes doubtful she will ever be worthy to rule. And when her fiery temper enrages the daemon-possessed Starkeeper of Equuleus with a hex-gone-wrong —igniting an orphic war—Jesobel must find a way to alter the global disaster foretold by a celestial legend."

I found this book on Facebook, and the cover caught my eye. So did the price. (It was free for kindle.)

Pros:
The story world is fairly interesting. There's some fairly standard fantasy stuff, but it's combined in some interesting ways.

The mentor character (Aggie) is appropriately mysterious, but she's a cranky old crone too, which makes for some fun moments and keeps her from hitting some stereotypes.

Cons:
The story kinda meanders around a lot. Nothing really happens in the book, and it feels a lot like setup for book two. I haven't read book 2, but I'm getting the feeling the pacing would be better if books one and two in the series were combined into one novel and trimmed a little.
Similar thing for the character of Jesobel. She spends a lot of time whining and avoiding work, then she gets her stuff together... then does something stupid... and the book ends. We get the character development and the setup here, but not the payoff.

Basicly, we have my two biggest pet peaves in fantasy here:
1. One story with an act in each book, instead of each book having a complete story in and of itself that ties into a larger story arc across the series.
Listen, people. Just because Tolkien's publisher told him it was impossible for his story to be printed in one book, and they had to split it up... that's no reason for you to write fantasy that way.

2. The untrained hero.
Why, oh why must every fantasy hero (the only person who can save the world) be completely untrained?
To be fair, Quickbane both does, and doesn't fall into this trap. If Jeosobel would pay the slightest bit of training, she'd be trained for the job...

I'm not sure if I'm going to read the next book or not. The world and characters were fun, and it kept me reading (at no time did I have to force myself to finish), I really don't like the whole, one story across multiple books thing. If I do read more, I'll wait until the entire series is finished, and read it all at once.

So, overall, three stars.