- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 07
- Series: Keeper Martin's Tales Series, Book 1 (Book 1)
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Reagent Press (February 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1575450593
- ISBN-13: 978-1575450599
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,264,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Kingdoms & The Elves Of The Reaches (Keeper Martin's Tales , Book 1) (Keeper Martin's Tales Series, Book 1) Paperback – February 1, 2002
Ancient Art of Faery Magick: "Recommended series."
From the Publisher
Discover the word-of-mouth favorites! Readers around the world are discovering Robert Stanek and Ruin Mist. Now in this deluxe edition of the top-selling title, you can get the ultimate Ruin Mist experience. Distinctive cover art features the wizard Xith, deluxe maps help you explore the realms, lavish illustrations bring the author's words to life, a guide to the characters provides additional background and helps you unravel the secrets of Ruin Mist.
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There are a lot of things with neat, and honestly very interesting names. But then there are objects and places with normal world names. It removes the reader from the world. How do we go from, "Xith" to "Midori" (which is a Japanese alcohol) to "Seth" but then there's "Br'yan". My partner is a published editor and is literally ripping this book apart. It would actually be pretty good if it had had an editor.
The language he uses in this book strikes me as if he was trying to set up his world in a certain time period, but instead of letting his language and characters show us this world, the writing is just awkward. "Only then that he became the boy of twelve who's name was Vilmos." "Vilmos briefly, but closely, studied his mother's features as he did each morning." You know what makes bad writing? INFO DUMPING. "Offset by a touch of gray, dark black hair the color of starless night sky fell to her waist. Her face, ripped with age in a pleasant way, was deep set with eyes of hazel that seemed to always be calling out." Even after all of that we still don't know what she actually looks like. We've got very crude things like eyes and hair color, that she looks aged but not how old, but that's almost anyone. Like 40% of the people in the world have black hair and at least 60% of them are women. We could have done with out the description and been alright.
This author has pretty much self published and has helped many other writers publish. Very respectable to have done so. But he also has a lot quotes from unknown sources comparing him to significantly better writers, saying "a wonderful cross between JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling," and "like getting Tolkien with all the right touches of Rowling." This is literally one of the largest lies I have ever read. The person who said it was probably a family member or a friend. Don't believe it. There's plenty of room to grow,but this book is terrible.
Sadly for Robert Stanek's "The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches," which is the first half of "Keeper Martin's Tales." this just highlights what a confusing, frustrating train wreck his attempt at an epic fantasy is. There's almost nothing going on (even compared to the later works of Robert Jordan), the characters are disastrously shallow and/or obnoxious, the conflict is impossible to understand, and the way that Stanek writes every scene 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. It's not a good sign for an epic fantasy when your initial response is a long string of one-word questions: "Why? How? When? What? Huh?"
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 Tales" was a disaster of a book, but "The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches" is actually WORSE than the book it makes up the first half of. Stanek took what little substance the original "adult" book had, and halved it. Even if this semi-crooked approach to publishing weren't.... well, semi-crooked, this was not a good thing. It actually highlights just how LITTLE is actually going on in the story... and it ends at a totally random spot with a very awkwardly-placed "to be continued."
It's also 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 or finding some way (ancient texts, letters, dialogue) to exposit.
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). 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. 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.
Furthermore, Stanek has a writing style that manages to be both bloated and vacuous, so that the act of reading it is like trying to do the backstroke in zero gravity. There's little substance there, but you have to slog through so much that it becomes exhausting to try to read. He keeps using words that he clearly doesn't understand ("Galan had the insatiable curiosity of a preborn child") 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. And of course, his dialogue often sinks into nonsense (“Rouse two guards to council doors").
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. Adrina is a particularly annoying character, since she also embodies the Rebellious Princess trope. So she would be irritating even if she weren't a sociopath.
As if "Keeper Martin's Tales" wasn't teeth-grindingly annoying already, "The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches" takes what little content Stanek's book had... and gives you only half for your money. Save your money for a book by Tolkien.