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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, very poorly executed., 25 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Eirelan (Saga of the Latter-Day Celts Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I saw this book mentioned by a friend of mine on Facebook, and it looked like just the sort of thing I love - it's set in a distant post-apocalyptic Ireland, which has become a tribal society in an era after the "Age of the Machines". It's the first book in a series. I got it from Amazon as a Kindle download, and read it on my phone. The reviews on Amazon are positive, so I had high hopes.

Oh dear. Let's just say I'm never going to get the time I spent reading this book back again. It has a number of very serious faults.

For a start, this book is far, far too long. The dead-tree version runs to a whopping 780 pages. Length is fine if the content justifies it, but to be honest most very long books I've read just seem poorly edited and contain a lot of extraneous fluff that can be cut out. This book is easily at least twice as long as it needs to be, with huge amounts of stuff that just needs cutting, because it (a) states the bleeding obvious, (b) doesn't drive the plot forwards or (c) describes things in detail that don't need describing. It makes for a seriously slow and plodding read. Each chapter begins with a piece of poetry, a letter or a journal entry that just doesn't need to be there and they got really tedious to read after a while.

Loads of things get over-described or mentioned far more often than they need to be. A typical example goes something like this...

Character A thinks to himself: wow, what an amazing sunset. I'd love to write a poem about that. Character B asks character A: what are you thinking about? Character A replies: I was just thinking what a great sunset that is, and how I'd love to write a poem about it.

Gaah! Things like this break the "show, don't tell" rule and make huge sections of the book twice as long as they need to be.

Apart from the length, there's a lot of issues with the writing style. The author has attempted writing in the literary style of the epic saga, but the language is an untidy and clumsy mixture of several different idioms. It goes from formal to informal and back far too frequently, and makes use of words like "sans" and "sotto voce" several times that just jump out and jar very badly. The dialogue is a mixture of PORTENTOUS and NOBLE and EPIC, and contemporary modern English, and is very wooden and stilted. In places the author attempts building Irish accents into the dialogue, and it's just dire, almost as bad as Hagrid's dialogue in the Harry Potter books.

There's far too many Americanisms in the text, such as people in small Irish towns describing distance in terms of "blocks", and use of words like "sidewalk" for pavement and "cot" for camp bed. These are never used in those contexts in British/Irish English and a lot of this stuff reeks of poor research.

All the characters have ridiculously over-the-top cod-Gaelic names which are hard to read, and many of them are seriously annoying and two-dimensional. The cast of characters is also far too big, with too many people named and described in detail who are in one brief scene that is not central to the plot.

The post-apocalyptic side of the story is hinted at and not ever gone into - it just seems like bit of a lame plot device to allow the author to write a hackneyed story based on a typically over-idealised view of Irish culture and history. Just about everyone in the story goes about being noble and high-minded and poetic all the time, and it's just not credible.

On top of all of this, a lot of the book (far, far too much of it) descibes life aboard warships in mind-boggling technical detail using technical terms that no non-sailor will understand.

I could just about forgive all of this - just - if the plot was any good, but it's not. The author shows some promising ideas but at evey turn ignores them or fails to do anything beyond the blindingly obvious. It's clear that the book is setting up a series and that some of the things hinted at will be developed in the sequels, but I very much doubt I'll ever read them. I wanted to finish this book, because I wanted it to be good and hoped it would end well, but it had too many loose ends and I don't want to read another book this long if it's going to be this bad.

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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Sep 2012 22:33:08 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Oct 2012 01:49:04 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2012 21:44:24 BDT
L. Osborne says:
I guess you don't like my review, but I don't think I'd do you or anyone else any favours if I was dishonest - I didn't like it. I don't think you're doing yourself any favours by suggesting that "there's no accounting for taste" and defensively telling me that all your other British and Irish readers have liked it - personally, I didn't, and I've done my best to explain why.

The basic idea, however, is a sound one, and I think there's the genesis of a good novel in there, but I'd strongly suggest very, very ruthless editing to bring it out, and deal with the myriad of typos you've left in the text. Also, certain things feel very badly researched and just made me wince.

I'm more than happy to engage in some constructive feedback with you. I'm aware your book is clearly a labour of love and I take my hat off to you for getting off your backside and writing it, which is more than I've ever managed. :)
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