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- Audible.com Release Date: October 29, 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009WTRWJW
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Faery Lands Forlorn: A Man of His Word, Book 2 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Once again, we follow the adventures of Inosolan (Inos), the rightful queen of the small, cold kingdom of Krasnegar, and Rap, a stableboy from Krasnegar and one of Inos's most loyal subjects. (It would be beneficial to read the first volume in this series, "The Magic Casement" before jumping into this book. There's some important background about this world's magic system in the first book, and you're introduced to many secondary characters in that book who also make appearances here.)
Unfortunately, the bulk of this book is about Inos and her story is not so different here than it was in book one. She's in a castle with her aunt Kade again for much of the book, only in the land of Zark instead of Kinvale. (Picture a generic fantasy Middle Eastern-style kingdom for Zark and a generic pseudo-European medieval type of place for Kinvale.) This time, she's not mooning over a man, she's wondering how she'll get out from under the watchful eye of the sorceress Rasha and back to her kingdom (without having a plan for retaking the kingdom, mind you).
But most of what she does is just not terribly interesting. She alternates between activities like hunting and horse riding with the princes of Zark and fuming about some of the practices that are prevalent in Zark (harems, keeping the populace in poverty, etc.). The setting has been swapped out, but that's all.
While we're on the subject of the setting, if you have ever gotten angry when reading about yet another society in a fantasy novel that's a thinly-veiled and/or exaggerated attempt to copy contemporary Middle Eastern/Arab cultures, stay away from this book. Women have to veil their faces in public, men have children with many women, men are very interested in horses, men and women don't eat together, etc., etc.
Maybe 1/3 of this book is about Rap and, again, his story is more interesting because he's active almost the whole time, although his story also has a lot in common with the first book. He spends a good deal of time in the wilderness with some of the same traveling companions he had in the previous book as well as a little bit of time in a city and some on a ship. Towards the end, we're seeing mostly Rap and very little Inos (except one quick scene where her storyline comes to a close for this book). And the end was a much better read.
So we have some new settings. Rap's still traveling through trees, it's just hot and humid instead of cold, now. Inos is still in a castle (palace), though it's hot where she is, too. (But they're still far apart from each other.) We don't have a lot of character development, though. Inos feels she has grown up since the last book, but she really hasn't changed, as I see it. Similarly, Rap hasn't changed a lot either, though he still struggles with ethics and morals sometimes. In this new land where he's been sent (by Rasha?), he and his companions must fight and steal to survive. He doesn't like this, but he puts up with it because he has no choice. And he feels guilty about it, when he has time to contemplate what's happened. So even though he's basically the same person as before, his internal struggle is more compelling.
The characters are a bit too gullible here, I have to say. If you remember the goblin Little Chicken from the last book, he's back. Spoiler in the next paragraph, so skip it if you don't want to know.
Little Chicken is still protecting Rap and, as part of this duty, he goes to fight some soldiers. He is kicking some serious rear end when, all of a sudden, we're told that he's died. The description of the fight leading up to this isn't sufficient to bring us to this conclusion, perhaps for good reason -- he hasn't died. So when he once again disappears under dire circumstances at the end of this book, we don't believe that he's dead then, either. But Rap does, both times.
OK, spoilers over. Anyway, there's a lot of infodumping in this book, too, usually in the form of long speeches by characters bringing a newcomer up to speed. Some of the worst is near the end of the book, when Rap is in the presence of several sorcerers. He has questions, they get answered, but the sorceress who answers them says she'll have to put a spell on him so he can't tell anyone else. It's a bit like those scenes in the James Bond movies where the villain tells Bond all his (the villain's) plans.
There are also some logical inconsistencies. When Rap is on a ship, the ship is nearly out of water. Totally reasonable scenario, right? Well, Rap braves some dangers to retrieve water for the ship. He's uniquely suited due to his magical abilities. Fine. Then it starts storming and STILL he carries buckets to the inland water source. Why not put the buckets (and other containers) on the deck of the ship to catch rain water instead of making the trek inland? It's safer, it's more efficient, etc.
There's a scene with Bright Water (a goblin witch we encountered in the previous book). It's confusing and doesn't really resolve anything. I get that we're not supposed to be sure she's mentally all there, and this may have been attempt at humor, but her behavior and words are so odd that I find it hard to believe any characters would make decisions based on what she says -- and yet they do.
A note on the edition: I have mixed editions for this series (a hazard of buying used books). For this particular volume, it's the newer print one from publisher "E-Reads." There are a few more typos/proofreading errors than there ought to be. But it's not terrible, and most pages are error-free.
It sounds like I couldn't stand this book, and that's not necessarily true. I read it all the way through to the end, and I still plan to finish the series. And there were some things done well in this book. For example, where Rap finds himself at the end was actually set up pretty well in volume 1. He uses abilities developed in the previous book to get out of situations he encounters in this book. No new powers suddenly develop. It gives me hope that more planning went into this series than has been evident so far.
I also like that the magic system has stayed consistent. We learn more about the relative statuses and abilities of sorcerers (i.e., people who know at least four magic words). We learn something about where the words came from. This is probably the strength of this whole series -- Duncan thought of a magic system, developed a lot of different aspects, and drops little bits of information as necessary to further the story.
Also, the ending was much more satisfying. Inos is on the way to solving a problem (we think, although we can see how she might be making a bad decision). Rap has reached a kind of resolution, even if it's not what he wants. There was none of the "sorceress drops out of nowhere for unexplained reasons" business that ended the first book.
At any rate, I'm giving this book a somewhat low rating for the reasons (mostly sloppy writing/planning and lack of character development), but there's enough good in this book that I'm going to finish the series.
I liked how the magic system worked - it is really interesting...
but so much of the series is just character building that does not
move the story along at all. For example, book 2 is pointless -
nothing really happens that matters much. That seems to be a
common theme in Duncan's books, but I still like them.
It was still a good read overall.
Unfortunately, Rap only occupied 30-40% of the first book. In this one, he's in less than 25%.
Ultimately, I got bored and put this down 60% of the way in.
You can skip almost all of it and not miss anything related to the plot.
Boy loses girl.
He travels around for a while.
Girl loses boy.
She travels around for a while.
Both characters are notably dull.
In a more literary note, the author has a remarkable ability to avoid meaningful dialogue between characters and insists on foisting unbelievable assumptions on the reader.