Stars: 2 out of 5
DNF at 51%
This book suffers from the first book in a series syndrome. The author is so excited to introduce the reader to his brand new world, that he throws everything but the kitchen sink into the first book. This leads to a book that is a hefty 700 pages long… that are a slug to read.
I know there is a story there, but it’s so muddled by the different side-stories and a multitude of different POVs that it progresses at a glacial pace. Well, glaciers move faster than this story, actually. I mean, when I called it quits at 50%, only two weeks narrative time had passed, and only a handful things had happened.
As I already mentioned, this story has too many narrators. I counted at least 8 or 9 different protagonists whose POVs we are privy to. That would work if they all contributed to the same story. Unfortunately, at least 4 of them (that I remember) are narrating events that don’t even happen on the same continent, that I could tell. And have no connection whatsoever to the main events in the story. Maybe the connection becomes evident later in the book, but seriously, if I can’t tell why half of the characters are even in the story after reading half of the book, something is wrong with the plotting.
It doesn’t help that of all the protagonists, I was truly interested in maybe 2 or 3. Daimon, Saana, and her daughter. They felt fleshed out. I could understand their motives and desires. The rest of the cast? Cardboard cutouts, all of them. I couldn’t care less about them or their stories, especially since they mostly had nothing to do with the main story.
This book would have benefited with sticking with the main story of the Raiders coming to ask asylum from the very people they had been pillaging for generations. Cut all the other POVs out. Put them in the next book in the series if you want, but don’t muddy the waters unnecessarily. This forced cohabitation story was so ripe with conflicts and possibilities! It had so much potential for violence, reconciliation, and character growth! It would have made an excellent book all by itself.
My other problem with this book is the dialogue. I get what the author tried to do, and the idea that different cultures have different languages and different ways to defining genders (one culture has 9 of them) is fun and exciting in theory… but the execution of that was less than stelar.
How do the character define which gender they are and where they stand in the hierarchy of their society? By talking about themselves in third person. I mean seriously! After the tenth “This lord wants you to do this” or “This woman/sister/daughter is telling her brother/father this”, I wanted to scream. After 400 pages of this? I wanted to throw the book at the wall. Since it’s an eBook on my kindle, I had to refrain myself.
This doesn’t sound natural. It makes for stilted and convoluted dialog that grated so much on my nerves that it took me out of the story every time.
Finally, since so little time was spent on the main storyline, the author didn’t explore any of the cultural and historical conflicts that should have arisen between the two people. Oh, some of those conflicts are mentioned… then resolved in what seems like minutes. It’s all too tidy and civilized, when it’s never so in real life. I mean slavery was abolished over 200 years ago, but the repercussions are still felt in modern USA even now. Don’t underestimate the potential for violence the human race has. This easy resolution makes the story less believable and it lessens the stakes.
But even though I DNFed this, I cannot give this story a one star rating. There is potential here. The world seems really interesting. And dragons! Well, more like dinosaurs, but still. This book would have benefited from a good developmental edit that would have cut the fat, tightened the plot, and moved the extraneous storylines out. As it stands, however, I am not interested enough to continue with the series.
PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.