Monday, June 20, 2011
Review: Swords of the Six
Either the traitor will repent, or justice will be served.
What follows is a story of betrayal, love, and ultimate sacrifice.
(From the back cover.)
I found Swords of the Six to be a good read with a great message, marred by a few faults that lessened my opinion of this book.
The cons. Bear with me as I walk through some of the things I struggled with in this book. Maybe it's because I'm a writer myself, and a persnickety perfectionist writer at that. But I'll try to give my honest opinion.
If I had to sum up the faults I found in this book, I'd say 'unrealistic'. This book struggled with realism.
First, many of the fight scenes were unrealistic. I was disappointed by this. In a fantasy novel, a fight scene often makes or breaks it. And I couldn't imagine them. There were many sentences like this: "Dantress stood, grasped her sword, and dashed to the scene of the kidnapping. Before the remaining four dragons could attempt to take off, she thrust one of them through the chest and stabbed another in the neck when it clawed at Rose'el." Like I said, unrealistic. I just can't imagine this.
And, from throwing an ax that happened to be lying about at a huge serpent (he managed to hit it, too), to hunting with a sword (how DOES that work?), I was constantly jerked out of the story as my Inner Editor woke up.
Second, the characters were unrealistic. While some characters (like Specter and Miverē) I really loved, the main characters kind of annoyed me. Dantress never seemed to have a solid character; I never really felt attached. She went this way one chapter, the other the next. While some of these changes in character might have been realistic, the change just wasn't shown sufficiently.
The five other sisters, too, were not realistic. They resolved in one section of the book not to kill, whereas in the next section they said they would kill to bring justice. I never felt like they were unique; they all seemed the same to me. And then, what they did at the end just made me shake my head in disbelief.
Ilfedo seemed to be an engima. The scene in which he started out made me think he'd be a bitter man for the rest of the book, but later in the book he seems to have not been affected by his own rampage. Those emotions and characteristics completely disappeared. He melted into a warm and rather gentleman-like guy.
And third, the writing was unrealistic. It was dotted with places where the character apparently noticed her own long and dark, red-tinged hair (for it was described thus) and other such things. Here's another one that bothered me: "She must have hit an artery because exorbitant amounts of green blood mixed with the rain-soaked mud and the monster fell." Not only could we use a couple commas in there, but I don't even know what exorbitant means. "Never use a long word when a short one will do," is a law I live by. And we readers already know that the mud is rain-soaked; why tell us?
Now, forgive me if I ranted a bit here. Like I said, I'm a persnickety, perfectionist writer. Just because I spent a long section describing the cons doesn't mean the cons are all huge and major.
And for the more enjoyable bit: the pros.
I saw a lot of epicness hinted at for later in the series. Several mysterious prophecies were given (and that I very much enjoyed), and the author himself said that this book is more of a prelude to the epic that is to come in his later books.
For this reason, I expect that the coming books in the series will improve. I'll definitely be looking forward to reading them. If Scott Appleton can redeem some of the faults I just described, I'm sure it will turn out to be a great series.
The character voice in Swords of the Six was likewise delightful. From the easily recognizable tone of Miverē to the sound of the white dragon's voice, I found that the author excelled in this aspect. Most of the characters had a favorite phrase or another that gave them their own flair.
The worldbuilding was quite good. Although I think I still need some clearing up on actual locations, it appears that there's two worlds, dangerous creatures, towns, woods, and many, many ancient battles and struggles. Some of them have only been hinted at; some we experienced for ourselves as readers.
I found the message of the book to be very good, even though I thought it could have been pulled off in a more emotional manner. Sacrifice is a worthy moral.
The description, even if it was over-the-top and often used big words when small ones would do, was vivid in certain scenes. It didn't quite deliver in some, but that was made up for in the more dramatic ones.
I found little visible plot to be found (it almost seemed to be two different storylines; thus, the book is divided into parts one and two). This further adds to the feel of a "prologue" but I felt there could have been more to it. There was absolutely nothing at stake, and that's what bothered me. Nothing drove the story. But if you don't mind a more character-driven story, I didn't find it that bad.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It had a lot of promise. I hate to criticize it, but there were some serious faults. There were some redeeming elements to it as well, though.
Rated 6.5-7 (as I'm torn how to rate this) out of 10. Roughly 3.5 stars.
Thanks to AMG Publishers for the free copy of this book to review. This is my honest opinion, and I was not required to write a positive review.