After winning a copy of AngelFall Book I in a giveaway, I wrote a review explaining that although I enjoyed the storyline I was disappointed by the overly descriptive writing style employed (I later read some interviews with the author, S E Foulk, who proclaimed Tolkien one of his favourite authors, which explains a lot). The author read my review, was very supportive of my comments and opinions, and surprised me by offering to send me a complementary copy of Book II to see what I thought. So here is what I thought.
Much like Mortuus' experience entering Limbo for the first time, I found Book II to be a welcome breath of fresh air. From the outset the long, clinical descriptions of characters, places and events have been banished in favour of dialogue and observations made from the characters' perspectives. The language is still a little formal and aloof in places for my liking (every now and then uncommon 'highbrow' words appear where more common words would have sufficed, and I found the incongruity a little off-putting), but the difference in the overall tone is marked. The story flows more smoothly, changes in narrative threads are easier to reconcile, and most importantly, characters really start to come to life. All this has left me eagerly awaiting the release of Book III.
Something I think is worthy of note - not so much a criticism as an observation; all of the events described in the book take place in Dante's Hell, and although the books touch on it now and then, there doesn't seem to be much of an atmosphere of the horror and torment suffered by most of the inhabitants. Even when horrific injuries and the acts that cause them are being described it all seems to be quite ... detached. As I said, this isn't really a criticism - I just caught myself marvelling at the enormity of the suffering every now and then, and thought it might be worthwhile expanding the theme literally within the book.
One difficulty I had was in trying getting my head around the layout of the environment. I constantly had to keep re-reading parts where it was important to understand where characters were moving from and to, and the little map illustrations didn't really help that much. To be fair though, the fact that I'm living in a largely sleep-deprived state at the moment may have contributed heavily to my confusion, so I can't lay this squarely at the author's feet!
I must reiterate the fact that I have a lot of respect for Foulk for self-publishing these books; I can't imagine it's an easy task, and it must take a vast amount of time, effort, patience and determination. It's encouraging to see that instead of having a negative effect on the quality of the actual writing the very opposite is true - Book II is a huge stride forward, and if this trend continues throughout the rest of the books AngelFall fans are in for a treat!
Saw just one review here and completely disagree. The first book was a good read. This is just turgid. I have given up part way through the book. No dialogue worth speaking about. No interest in the characters. Just a rip off to call this part of a series. No overlap of characters, placement or anything else.