Crazy Uncle Ryan's favorite quotes

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."— Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Defeating Shadows

Usually I don't post book reviews on my blog but since this book was written by one of my wife's co-workers I thought I would include my review here as well as on my goodreads page. I hope that this review will be a help to her in promoting her book. Just to warn you, this does contain some spoilers.First off I want to say that this was a really good book. I thought the story was ingenious. The plot was very creative and I loved the whole concept of the Elemental Beasts and the swords, the Directional Kingdoms, the Void Vulture, etc. One thing that I really enjoyed was the four main characters. I think of the four princes that I like Dominic the best. This is probably because he’s almost as snarky and sarcastic as I am. One of my favorite parts of the book came near the end when Sam was close to death, saw the paths and was given the choice of whether he wanted to come back or not. Though scenes like that are hardly unique in literature for some reason that image just really hit me powerfully. I especially liked when Sam asked the Mortin and Phillip he was talking to in the dream if they were the “real princes.” I’m glad that they’re answer was kind of vague. It makes the scene more interesting to think about and wonder about.

With all that said, there were a few things about this book that made it a bit awkward to read. With most novels the narrative is told in past tense, as though the author is relating a story that happened at an earlier time (“Someone went and woke him up”). However this was told in present tense as though it were happening right there and then (“Someone goes and wakes him up”). I found this very distracting at first since I couldn’t remember having read a book like that before. However, after a short time I got used to it and it stopped bothering me.

There was also a conspicuous lack of punctuation at times. Now, I majored in linguistics so I don’t care much about so-called “proper English” or anything, but sometimes when one chooses to leave out a lot of commas it can be hard to interpret the sentence correctly. Sometimes I actually had to re-read certain parts to figure out how the phrases within a sentence were supposed to be broken up so I could figure out what the author was saying. Another thing was a lack of proofreading. This book had more typos than I have ever seen in a book and I’ve read Chris Heimerdinger’s Tennis Shoes series. Extra words, misspelled words, words written as two words that should have been one word, using the wrong form of a word, etc. Needless to say, it was a little distracting.

Another thing I noticed was there were a lot of repeats of ideas. In most books you get the description or an explanation once, then if a character needs to relate that information to someone else later on in the story the author will simply state that the character related the information. However, in this book many times when these types of situations happened the full explanation would be related again in the text. This was a little unusual but I actually found it a kind of nice. Since I often read this book a bit sporadically sometimes it helped to have the information repeated since I had often forgotten it. This book was a little predictable at times. There were many incidences when I read something that would remind me of scenes or themes from The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter or other fantasy books. Of course, most fantasy stories remind the reader of other fantasy stories and when you have read as much fantasy as I have you tend to notice those similarities more. So don’t misunderstand; this is in no way a copy or a knock-off of some other story. Defeating Shadows is a unique and creative story that happens to contain many of the themes that are dealt with in other stories in the genre.

So overall, this was a very enjoyable read. I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys reading fantasy as much as I do. Hopefully Kris E. Kay will write more soon.

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