Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Outcasts

The Outcasts: Book I: The Lies of AutumnThe Outcasts: Book I: The Lies of Autumn by Chuck Abdella
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The world is in danger and the only ones who can save it just happen to have been broken by the world.

The Outcasts attempts to set itself apart from the straightforward slay the Dark Lord quest from the description on. The tale describes itself as different from a basic epic quest tale, but it never accomplishes it's desired distinction. It talks constantly about being different from classic tales without much to back it up in terms of tangible differences.

This tale is basically a sexed up attempt at The Lord of The Rings. There was an abundance of who is sleeping with who and one character who sleeps with multiple characters.

The author also had an odd habit of directly addressing the reader from time to time. At first I imagined that it was merely a case of missed quotation marks, but after the third time I encountered it, I realized it was just the style the author chose.

The story did have some unique takes on the standard Wizard character type. This was my favorite part of the story. Wizards aren't made they are born. They have violet eyes and inherent magic ability even though they still needed to train to enhance their abilities. Wizards also care for others in a distant and at times cold way unlike the humans and elves.

The Outcasts was a traditional story that spent too much time saying it was different than traditional stories rather than actually making itself different.

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Shield of Thunder

Shield of Thunder (Troy, #2)Shield of Thunder by David Gemmell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In what should be a happy time with the heir to Troy getting married, knives are being sharpened as enemies prepare for war. Hidden plots and plans unfold in the intrigue laden Shield of Thunder.

For a book series about a massive looming war it sure takes a long time to get to it. From the beginning of Lord of the Silver Bow all the readers and characters knew a war was coming between Troy and Mykene yet there was only build up to the impending battle in book one. Surely The Shield of Thunder with a cover picture of The Trojan Horse would focus on the war itself...nope. The first 330 or so pages were more build up to the war. This time period revolved around Hektor and Andromache's wedding yet we don't even see the wedding in all that time. After that point there is a big time skip and the war has finally begun. Now being a war whose point of view would you expect to see? Warriors of course. Well we get a little of that, but then large point of view sections from a 3 year old boy and 2 queens. It's all quite frustrating to say it nicely. If not for Odysseus and Bankoles then I don't know if I could have finished this book.

The Shield of Thunder is the third book I've read by David Gemmell and I'm starting to notice some patterns such as instant inexplicable love interests, constantly shifting point of views, random point of views, and the seriousness of war. I'm quite appreciative of the seriousness of war, but I find I've grown tired of the love interests and the way he makes use of point of view characters.

The characters themselves largely feel flat to me. I don't feel as though I'm in their head experiencing emotions with them as much as I feel I'm being told about them having emotions by a third party. There is quite the emotional disconnect that only felt to be bridged by Odysseus and Banokles. I enjoyed my time when the two of them were point of view characters because they felt and behaved like real people constantly unlike the remaining cast of characters.

I have found the retelling interesting to some degree as Paris and Helen are barely even involved. Apparently Helen is a plain and dull woman rather than the woman so beautiful men died fighting in a war over her. I didn't mind the focus on Helikaon in the first book, but he's largely absent in this book due to a festering injury caused by an assassin. Hektor and Achilles are largely forgettable even though they are still fearsome warriors and leaders of men. I think one of the parts of the retelling I like least is Priam being a scumbag rather than a fairly good man and great king.

All in all Shield of Thunder was a long plodding book that was mainly a disappointment. I'm not sure at this point if I'll finish the series.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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