Top critical review
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The brink of a good novel
on 30 June 2009
I had great expectations of this book, all the blurb lead me to believe it would be a really good adventure, but in the end I was disappointed and unfullfilled. It had all the components of what a great book should be; lots of potentially interesting characters, lots of things happened, potentially a great fantasy epic set at sea and written by KJA who by all accounts is a good author -especially as I've never read anything of his until this book. I was set, ready to be entertained.
However I was really disappointed. The main problem for me was that I just didn't feel involved; the book seems to be an account of events rather than an engaging narrative that you feel part of. I kept thinking of the events being described by a newscaster, "In other news a giant sea serpent attacked a ship. It was killed." The author's style meant, for me, there was no drama - while a lot happens in the story, it just didn't draw me in so I wanted to stay up late to read more. Indeed I just wanted to finish it in the end. Also, it was all rather predictable which normally isn't an issue if you can engage with what's happening. Another also, it is described as fantasy but there is no magic apart from a magic compass which is never used. So it was just a story set at sea with a magic compass not a fantasy novel. Shouldn't `fantasy' have magic in it? Otherwise is in the A-Z section of Waterstones, surely.
If this is KJA's normal style then his current fans will love this book. If however you like your stories to be gripping, you characters to be interesting and your suspense to be dramatised then read one of the many other authors who have done much better.