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A Precarious Beginning: Chronicles of Castlemount Book 1 Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Yes, the story is good, but some of the characters (Hyla's fellow Dragonriders) come across as flat and nonessential. This may be because the story is not about them, but with the amount of times they are mentioned you would expect more character development. Perhaps this will occur later in the series. That's another thing; I felt like this book was seriously setting up further stories down the line, and wasn't quite a complete story in and of itself. The could be due to the fact that Hyla is only six, so even a small adventure seems huge to her. Speaking of Hyla's age, I found it hard to sometimes follow the narrative, there were three stories going on, present day Hyla, present day Sergeant Troy, and Hyla's past. While Hyla wasn't a narrator in first person, she was in third - which sometimes made the things she saw or did slightly unreliable. How much of the story is true when a six year old is the narrator?
Just as Hyla doesn't really understand what is happening around her, the king also doesn't seem to understand what is happening around him. He is slow to trust his advisors and quick to blame everything on a mythical truce that may no longer be in effect (if it ever was). To put it lightly, I hated the king. He was childish, and quick to believe superstitions and lies. He didn't seem like a man that could lead a kingdom, if anyone displeases or contradicts him they are killed by Troy, and if two young Dragonriders come up with a conspiracy theory he believes it wholeheartedly. Ugh.
Sergeant Troy was awesome. I liked that he wasn't one sided. He wasn't just the king's assassin, but that was what most people knew him as. Hyla however first knew him as the man that was kind and shared his food. This changed her whole perspective of him. I liked that he felt responsible for Hyla and wanted to make sure everything was going well for her.
This book contains great deal of world building and a whole lot of getting-to-know-you with the main character and her new life. Fantasies often start out with a character being removed from his or her normal milieu. The character learning the new setting is a wonderful excuse to reveal that world to the reader, and develop the personalities as well. However, there needs to be an underlying development of the real conflict, the greater world conflict, and in this story it takes too long. It isn’t until Chapter 24 (Out of 34) that we switch to the POV of one of the villains, and that conflict takes off. It is Chapter 25 before the greater political conflict starts.
Until that point the tension is upheld by flashbacks to Hyla’s struggle for life in the gutter and her present difficulties in learning her new life. This sort of introductory conflict is good for about Chapters 3 through 6 in most books. Then, no matter how interesting the new world and its minor troubles are, suspense flags.
There are also a few rough edges in the writing style that should have been picked up by editors and beta readers:
“Instead of words, her mouth hung open in dumbfounded silence.” I know what the author means to say, but the sentence doesn’t hang together. The question of Troy’s motivation at the beginning of the story and why he was driving the wagon is never answered. Point of view is not always clear and sometimes slithers to other characters briefly.
And a point about dialect. “Ise” and “youse” are great dialect indicators, but I have rarely seen them used in a novel. Perhaps because they are frequently used words, and they do begin to grate on the reader after a while.
Strengths: world building and characters. Weakness: structure and lack of conflict. Recommended for YA epic fantasy fans.
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Hyla is an orphan little girl who has been surviving in the streets until one day her path crosses with her savior.Read more