15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: King's Dragon (Crown of Stars, Book 1) (Paperback)
I'm still not sure about this book, though I will probably try the second in the series to see how it progresses.
On the one hand, traditional fantasy fare; a pair of teenagers thrown into events that they would never have dreamt of being involved in a year before, largely seeing the world through their innocent eyes. In other words, derivative of most other fantasy novels, and therefore, as a basis for a book, frankly now rather boring.
On the other hand, it is well written, there are a number of subplots surrounding the central theme, not to mention hints of plots that have yet to be uncovered - presumably in later novels. And above all, a rather more realistic portrayal of such a world than you traditionally get.
But my biggest problem with the novel, and what most discourages me about reading it, and further entries in the series, stems from that realism. The author acknowledges at the front the role various experts on medieval Europe have played in her writing of the series. Which is just the problem - to a large extent the novel is SET in medieval Europe. The Church, in particular, is blatantly the Catholic Church anytime up to around the reformation. She's even hardly bothered to change the names - the pope has become the scopos, bishops are now biscops and so on. The Emperor that people keep referring to is Charlemagne. Frankly, in my fantasy novels, although I like realism, I also like the author to have put a little effort into creating something unique. Kate Elliot hasn't, she's merely changed the names, and introduced references (medieval Europe references, at that) to sorcery. Oh, and she's made women more politically powerful. Much as I think this has potential, I can't get over the feeling that it should really be in the historical fiction section. If I had wanted to read about medieval Europe, I would have bought a book on the subject.
Overall, as I say, I will probably buy the second book, if only to see how some of the plot devises develop. But they had better do so if I am to read the entire series. There are plenty of books out there set in a truly fantasy world that this one has to have something rather good from a plot, character or writing perspective to get over the fact that the author has spent so little time in the creation of her world.