31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2006
David And Leigh Eddings have some talent in writing together, but too much of it is wrapped up in their supposedly all-powerful "formula" for writing fiction (originally developed as a formula for writing fantasy.)
First off, if one is going to write a book about contemporary young people, one should make an effort to study their speech and manner beforehand, else one look like a fool by writing their speech in an overly stereotypical and stylized manner. (Other reviewers have commented already on the excessive "cutesy" language. I was not as offended as some, but it was still annoying. I also don't find it plausible that any number of grad students can live in the same house without one of them bringing a bong into the place or using profanity. That doesn't include at all the bizarre lack of sexual expression in the protagonists. Since when does an "agreement" to not pursue each other romantically EVER harness the libido of a twenty-five year old male?)
Second, while the storyline was an interesting departure from the Eddingses fantasy works, elements of the "Eddings Formula" still cropped up-- INCESSANTLY. It is now apparent that the Eddingses are under contract to have at least one all-wise and ageless, beautiful woman in a platonic advisorial role to the main protaganist. They give her different names, and sometimes break her up into multiple characters, but she's still there. Usually I simply mentally replace whatever they named this woman with "Polgara" and it seems to work just fine. (They also must apparently use the phrase, "Be nice," in every published work. I think they need a new agent to get that out of their contract, because I am SICK AND TIRED OF READING IT!)
Third, David Eddings should really know better than this, since he used to teach college English, but the assignment of a one hundred word essay on "What I did for my summer vacation" would N-E-V-E-R elicit groans in an undergraduate. One hundred words is child's play. College papers are traditionally assigned by PAGE NUMBER, and during my Bachelor's Degree I would have fallen to my knees and kissed the feet of any professor assigning me a mere one hundred words. (I think I've hit that limit in this review already.) Worse, the paper was so poorly written as to be laughable for a junior high student. No college-level English department head would read it and demand that the writer become an English major. More likely they would read it and demand that the writer be moved to remedial English.
Fourth, The ending. Oh. My. God. The Ending. Was there a time constraint? Did the original idea not fit in the submission envelope? Wasn't there supposed to be a surprising twist somewhere? I was on page 70 when I figured out how the book was going to end (It was, after all, printed on the DUST JACKET.) The only surprises were learning the names of the new characters. (Their personalities, sadly, are never a surprise any more. You can go through every Eddings book published after 1999 and scribble out the character names, to be replaced with "Garion," "Silk," "Durnik," and most especially, the ubiquitous "Polgara.")
Having said all this, the book was interesting. It had an extraordinary premise that was botched by the clumsy writing of the once-great authors. There were funny moments. There were poignant moments. Nothing gripped like Kurik's death in the Tamuli, or cracked one up like Silk's description of Brill's attempt to learn how to fly in the Belgariad ("Does bouncing count?"), but there were flashes of the talent the authors used to display.
Ultimately, "Regina's Song" is the only book published by the Eddingses since 1999 that is worth the cover price. It will not surprise you, but it may intrigue you, even though, sadly, you simply won't CARE which twin was murdered because the Eddingses did a poor job of making you think about about them at all.
I have to wonder, though. As a published author myself (non-fiction), I routinely check Amazon.com to see where my readers are rating my books. This is important feedback for me, and the comments they offer help shape new books (or in my case, revisions of the current ones.)
Is David Eddings completely unaware that no book with Leigh's name on the cover has garnered more than a two and a half star average--EVER? Has he not noticed the comments from readers that his plots are "incessently repetitive," "boring," and "good in idea, miserable in execution?" Has no one pointed out to him that readers are sick and tired of his six stock characters?
In the Belgariad and Mallorean there was a definable reason for the repetition of the plot devices: the universe couldn't continue until the Great Mistake was repaired. In the Elenium and Tamuli there was enough (JUST enough) alteration to keep things interesting, but since then, the combination of stock, flat, unoriginal and unexciting characters coupled with repetitive plot ideas (and the rather insulting idea that the reader isn't smart enough to follow the plot, so it has to be rehashed again and again and AGAIN) has resulted in a group of books that I mentally declaim to be "AL" or "After-Leigh."
These books are incredible in idea, execreble, miserable, implausible, pathetic, trite, and NAUSEATING in their execution. "Regina's Song," sadly, is one of these.
This is Eddings's "Great Mistake" that has divided his universe and destiny: allowing his wife to collaborate with him. Time and the publication of six "AL" books that are all uniformly [...] have proven that David Eddings is, at age 75, a dog too old to learn new tricks.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2003
I would like to open with a protest of having to give a star at all.
No, I take that back, I admire the lack of glaring grammatical errors.
That being said, I'm quite disgusted that I wasted my money on the hardcover edition. The plot was vapid and obvious, with no spectacular surprises, but I can sometimes even forgive that if the character development is strong and the dialogue witty. Sadly, this book failed on both counts. There are many prominent characters in this novel, but only one (yes, ONE) actual character type. This is a completely static character type, I should point out. All characters tend to use the same dialogue in the same literary tone, and fit into the all-too-similar mold of being intelligent, slightly quirky, and possessing a good sense of humor while remaining well-grounded in their work. Yet, the thing that got to me the most was the constant "cutesy" speak and attitude. Almost everything seemed to have gained the suffix "-y," "-ie," or "-poo" (eg - "Dockie-Poo" rather than "doctor"). This is not something I want to read now that I am past the age of three. Heck, I doubt I could have stomached the consistency of the cute-speak even at that age.
I was also quite bothered by the general chauvinistic attitude that was found in some basic assumptions throughout the book. The female characters fell into only two categories: the mother figure or the cute girly type. The older female characters all spent their time cooking and serving the males coffee, while the men worked on the plumbing, carpentry, or the automobiles. The men all had an innate presumption of protecting the women, and the women allowed them to do so, particularly when reverting to "cutsey-girly" mode. It all just seemed ridiculously archaic in its gender presumptions.
I will, however, speak well of the ideas presented (in what hardly deserves to be called subplot) by the main character's search for a masters and doctoral thesis. That, at least, got me interested in real works of literature, rather than what I suffered through with this.
Don't read it. Really, simple as that.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2002
I feel like I wasted my time. A whole bunch of hours of reading that I'll never get back, wasted on reading this book.
Now, I'm not a person who bashes books lightly - books that other people look down thier noses at I'll often find SOME redeeming value. In this book I find none. What's wrong with it? Plenty. The characters are unnapealling - does Eddings really think women are like that? Honestly, the portrayal of women in this book is worse than Robert Jordan's, and that's saying a lot. The focus of the book, the disturbed twin Renata (or Regina), or as she's commonly known, "Twinkie", is not written so as anyone could think of her as a real person, with a real character. She's a plot twist, nothing more. She has less personality than an empty eggshell. The main character, Mark, has all the likeability of a pair of old, unwashed gym socks. The man is obnoxious and unlikeably irritating, and the assignments he gives his freshman english class are ridiculous. Eddings tries to build an interesting, well-rounded character in him - and fails miserably.
The comraderie between the boardinghouse crew is frighteningly reminiscent of that of the group in the Redemption of Althalus, and there already Eddings was pushing it - but here it's worse. Each member of the group has a token job - the law student, the med student, the philosopher, the psychologist - and absolutely no other personality at all.
Furthermore, Eddings is fond of repeating himself - he gives the reader the same information over and over again through the mouths of different characters, when the reader is desperate for new information, for anything interesting. The book is long, drawn out, and takes forever for anything intriguing to actually happen - and when it does, it lasts for less than a page, and is barely mentioned or explained for the rest of the book.
This book is a failure. I can't remember the last time I so thoroughly disenjoyed reading something - I'm even mildly enjoying the Dickens I'm reading, and Moby Dick, for goodness sake! This is the first time I ever gave a book one star, but I'd give it no stars if that were an option.
Don't waste your time. Read the Belgariad, even the Mallorean - but stay away from Regina's Song, far away. Trust me, this is one book you don't want to waste your time on.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2003
I have been a fan of David Eddings for many years and have given copies of his books to many students of mine. I was excited to see that he had written a novel in the thriller genre with a contemporary setting. Unfortunately, this book was not very enjoyable.
The narrator, Mark Austin, is supposedly a young man, but the only way I could picture him throughout the novel is as a large, oafish, middle-aged man. None of the other characters were as well-drawn and memorable as I've come to expect from an Eddings novel.
One of the better aspects of Mr. Eddings' novels is his humor. This novel, however, bludgeons the reader with its heavy-handed attempts at wit. Every character in the novel seems to be trying to "one-up" the others at funny. It becomes very annoying very quickly.
Any person who has extensively read suspense/thriller novels will be disappointed that the mystery in this novel is so easily apparent. I kept reading, hoping that there would be a twist, something thrown into the mix that would alter what seems so obvious from the beginning, but that did not happen.
This novel will not prevent me from buying other novels written by David Eddings; I've read far too many wonderful books by him for far too many years to allow this one disappointment to deter any future purhases.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2003
I have read, and loved, every fantasy book David Eddings has written. Ignoring the tepid reviews, I bought this book and looked forward to another (albeit different) Eddings adventure. Sadly, I was bored to tears by the wooden characters and their elementary school dialogue. I didn't care about any of these people and most of what happened made no sense. I'm usually sorry to see a book end, but this time I was thankful when I finally turned the last page. Personally, I think David Eddings should stick to fantasy and leave murder mystery/thrillers to the experts.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2002
I was looking forward with great interest to this thriller, being a great fan of the Eddings' highly-readable fantasy novels.
Unfortunately, I found Regina's Song highly implausible. The cutesy-poo dialogue of the opening chapters came straight out of a 1940s children's adventure story. The novel is set in the 1990s. Do teenagers and 25-year-olds really speak this way? I think not.
And then there's the major plot device - the seemingly impossible problem of identifying whether Regina or her twin sister Renata has been murdered - they're identical and don't have fingerprints or footprints to identify them.
Come on, that's no problem at all. The newspapers are always full of bodies being identified by . . . dental records. But David & Leigh Eddings ignore this option, because the entire plot hinges on not being able to identify the dead twin.
Some good woodworking tips in the novel, though . . .
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I couldn't bring myself to give this a one rating, but I sure considered it.
Anyone who has read Edding's others works, knows that he is a pretty formulaic writer. You can count on a meandering plot with lots of inane banter, teasing, tweaking, irony, sarcasm and wit between characters. Male and female roles fit predetermined archaic standards. 1950's, which seems to be the standard date cited for the style, is pretty accurate I guess. 1950's might be a little too modern however; Victorian era, anyone?
That having been said, I generally enjoy Eddings. He's easy to read and draws smiles with the interaction he portrays between characters.
When I picked up the book I thought, "OK, DIfferent genre, maybe I'll see something else from this writer."
This is the equivilent of the Bobbsey Twins meets Dracula, but without the inside joke that title would imply for those reading it. Reading this book, you get the feeling Eddings is really serious about what he is doing and thinks the reader is going along with him. This reader was kicking and screaming the whole time, mumbling and giggling "He's not really serious, is he?"
What was he thinking?! Cutesy dialogue in a slasher thriller? I mean, really! There were no real surprises; No major plot twists; You could see the connection between the twin and the killings coming from a mile away. The post-mortem would have been better used on the manuscript then any fictitious corpse.
Nobody wins with this work. Those who like Eddings for his banter, couldn't have been attracted to the subject matter in this misplaced effort.
Those into slasher thrillers had to be giggling with vacant looks in their eyes reaching for the Alka-Seltzer about 20 pages into this turkey.
So why didn't I give it a 1? Well, I have to admit, that as misguided as this effort was, I still enjoyed the read, because I like Eddings. I had to read on and stare ... much like rubber-necking a major auto wreck. Nevertheless I was able to finish it, shake the dust from my fingers and dream of what might lie ahead in fantasy once this corpse is buried and the memory fades.
If you've read everything else of Eddings and want to say you've read it all, then by all means buy it.
If not, don't touch this gobbler with a 10 foot pole and work through his fantasy works which are truly a match for his considerable talent.
Everyone is entitled to an off book. This is Mr. Eddings'.
Mr Eddings, please stick with what works for you in fantasy or narrative dialogue. If you change genres, change or at least adjust your style. If you can't, stick with what you know works.
This didn't. You're better than this.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2004
Having been a big fan of Eddings' work for many years now, and having read everything that he/they have ever written, I bought this book without so much as a hesitation.
Imagine my disappointment then when, upon reading this, I was terrifically dissatisfied on almost all accounts. I am not certain if it is the genre, (being one of the few Eddings' non-fantasy novels) or the subject matter, but this book falls flat from cover to cover.
Perhaps, it is because this novel is based in `real world' context - allowing an actual frame of reference that is impossible within the fantasy genre - that the sub par writing becomes apparent. However, although it has been some years since I read High Hunt, and The Losers, I do not recall having experienced the same visceral reaction to the quality of the writing in those books. That, and the fact, that as big a fan as I am, I just cannot bring myself to consider that Eddings' overall writing style is second-rate.
The storyline is predictable (other than one small surprise twist that appears more than halfway through the book on page 319) and trite. The story development and depth is overlooked time and time again in lieu of repetitive and one-dimensional writing. (The mention of fog again and again and again being a prime example.) The reinforcement of words through italics is so overused that I one point I actually began counting how often they were used on a two page spread, and at another point, I genuinely found myself shocked that the use for emphasis was truly applicable!
The dialogue is cumbersome, exceptionally pedestrian, and annoyingly redundant. (`Normies' is painfully inane and the fact that every single character adopts this term is beyond exasperating. How about `normal' or, perhaps even `sane'?? Novel idea? Not in this one! And `bad days'? Sounds like we're talking about hair and not the repercussions of a person's crumbling sanity. And, like the mention of fog, we read them again and again and again...didn't anyone on this team have access to a thesaurus??) I cannot help but think if someone (either the authors or even - gasp! - an editor) were to take the time to read this poorly-written dialogue aloud they would have immediately recognized that real people do not speak this way!
The character development is shallow and uninteresting, and thus, most of the characters themselves are irritating and obvious. The characters' various professions/studies and relationships to both Mark and Renata are exceedingly convenient. Character motivation is dubious and illogical; most disturbing is the obvious oversight that neither Mark nor Sylvia make any effort whatsoever to contact Dr. Fallon immediately after Renata's hospitalization.
Additionally, after Renata's apprehended, Mark makes a comment about how Renata does not deserve to go to prison! Nor should she be labeled `criminally insane'. Huh?! Did anyone pay attention to HOW these people were murdered besides me?? Sure they were suspicious characters who may or may not have `deserved' it, but it was not a simple strangling, gun shot, or even stabbing that did them in. The method of assassination was vicious, disgusting and evil and was, in essence, so horrific that throughout the story everyone comments on the sheer brutality of it. And she didn't just slaughter the guy responsible, but to everyone's own admission, she practiced on the other victims first! And yet, Mark and the others sit around discussing her and her fate as if she's this fragile, misunderstood innocent who is nothing more than a victim of her own experiences. Sure, she's crazy, but she's bloodthirsty, manically crazy when the wolves `sing'. (Ack!)
Basically, there is no dimension, subtext, or compelling drama to encourage eager page turning. In fact, this read goes beyond substandard into chore-based; the only reason I even made an effort to finish the book was because of the author(s).
At this point, I am unsure who is to blame more for the mediocrity of this book - the authors, or the editor(s) (who apparently did not show up for work on this project). Cutting, cutting and more cutting would have certainly been a good start to a better novel!
I will continue to buy and read Eddings' novels, but will pause for a little more consideration next time if the story falls outside of the wonderfully developed fantasy world in which he/they have previously so successfully executed.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2002
After reading this book, you will neither know or care which of the twins died. All I can say is the surviving one was pretty dull. They try and make her seem intriguing by having her write a Freshman English Comp paper that shows her sane/insane worldview. It then get shown to anyone and everyone in the book to show how extrordinary she is. I showed her "paper" to friends for laughs and we all agreed that her paper would be a joke in high school and would certainly not have her "brother" be told by his boss in the English department that she must become an English major. All in all, everyone seemed to be too perfect in their area of expertise, while still not being interesting enough to make the reader care if they lived or died after the book was over.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2003
When I first read the Belgariad, I was enchanted. Great story, great characters, compelling from start to finish. The Mallorean had so many parallels to the Belgariad, but that was fine because it was incorporated into the story. Then came the Elenium, and I started to suspect that Eddings was a one trick pony. Too many similarities to previous efforts.
Well, after reading Regina's Song, I'm going to say I wish he (and his wife) had just stuck to that one trick. A pretty cool idea was dragged into the mud by mind numbingly boring characters and execution. Some of the worst dialogue I've ever read; think noir meets Barbie. Finally, I was offended by the pomposity of the main character, who remains pugnaciously mundane to the highly unsatisfying end.