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Keeper Martin's Tale (Ultimate Edition) Paperback – November 19, 2007
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Kingdom Alliance, Book 2 in the Ruin Mist Chronicles, was featured in the Publisher's Weekly Cover Story in April 2009. Nearly a million people have read the Ruin Mist books. The books are available via Amazon, Audible, Playaway, OverDrive, and more than a dozen other retail and library partners.
From the Author
I've been writing stories for 35 years and millions have read my works. If you decide to read my books, and I hope you do, one thing I hope you take with you afterward is the sense that anything's possible. You can dream. You can achieve dreams. All those years ago when I began writing, I had no idea where my dream would take me and yet I dared to dream because I believed the impossible was entirely possible.
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I have read many terrible books, but Robert Stanek's "Keeper Martin's Tale (Ruin Mist Chronicles, Book 1)" has earned a position in the hall of shame for being the most frustrating, incoherent, bumbling fantasy book I have ever read in my life. The characters are disastrously shallow and/or annoying, the conflict is impossible to understand, and the writing is brain-meltingly dull.
I wish I could summarize this book properly, but it's difficult to even do that much. Basically, a war is brewing among the four kingdoms, although I'm not sure who the villains are, what caused the conflict, or why the heroes are involved. Three particular characters become embroiled in the conflict -- sociopathic "spunky princess" Adrina, the befuddled elf bodyguard Seth, and the sadistic magical child Vilmos. Vilmos is taken under the wing of wizened magician Xith; Seth is sent by the Elf Queen to get involved in... some conflict; and Adrina, after much contrived castle intrigue, goes... somewhere with her love interest Emel.
Yeah, "Keeper Martin's Tale (Ruin Mist Chronicles, Book 1)" is painfully confusing; I had no idea what caused the war, who was involved in it, or even who the villains were. Robert Stanek is absolutely ghastly at exposition -- he's one of those authors who seems to assume that you understand all the terminology and backstory of his world without actually EXPLAINING it. A skilled author might be able to do that, but would include a glossary or explain through implications how the world works.
The plot (if you can say there is one) is a meandering disaster of inexplicable events (Vilmos encounters a two-headed beast that... has nothing to do with anything else) that simply pop up whenever the stagnant plot requires something to happen. Stanek doesn't really bother to give any actual texture to his imaginary world and cultures -- there's a castle, and there's a place with elves and mood-ring rooms, but not much else. It's like a 2-dimensional stage set, without the suspension of disbelief that comes with a play.
Also, Stanek clearly has no idea how subplots progress, since he flings his characters to wherever he feels like putting them, without warning. For instance, in one chapter Seth is hanging out in the Elf... city? Country? Civilization?.... and the next he's suddenly in battle hundreds of miles away.
And Stanek's prose is just AWFUL. He keeps using words that he clearly doesn't understand ("Galan had the insatiable curiosity of a preborn child" -- even though unborn babies are not known for curiosity) and phrases that don't belong in a fantasy book ("It is called non-corporeal stasis, an out of body experience"). His writing simply rambles on without any actual POINT, littered with gaping plot holes, terrible metaphors, and Big Significant Events that.... aren't.
Stanek's characters are almost as ghastly as his prose -- Adrina, Seth and Vilmos all show signs of sociopathic behavior, whether it's frightening other people for fun or cold-bloodedly manipulating them. Nobody in this book does anything in a logical manner, bursting into tears or freaking out based on... whatever the author wants them to do at a given moment.
There are books that are more offensive, more obnoxious, or more infuriating out there. But "Keeper Martin's Tale (Ruin Mist Chronicles, Book 1)" has to take the prize as the most poorly written among them.