Once again, after reading a host of books that I loved but didn’t have time to review, it’s time to throw them all together into a mini-review post! Since this one contains books dominated by fantasy, this is the fantasy edition. All reviews will be spoiler free, followed by three things I learned from that book in particular. Even if you haven’t read the books, it’s safe to read. Our three books today will be The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima; The Runaway King, by Jennifer A. Nielsen; and Found, by Sarah Prineas.
First, The Demon King. The review for this book will serve as the review for the Seven Realms series, because I devoured them as if they were one book. I have to say, I liked this a whole lot more than I expected to. Sometime last year I read Chima’s Heir Chronicles. I found those books pretty good, but somehow I didn’t expect these ones to be quite the same. And really, they weren’t. The world was amazing. The characters were lively. The writing, though it had a few oddities here and there, carried the story smoothly. I enjoyed the first book so much that the next time I was at the library, I got the next three.
The only problem I had continuously through the series was with the romance. I prefer romance as a subplot. I don’t mind if it’s there, I don’t mind if it affects the motives or the emotion of the story, but I don’t want romance to be the main thing that interests me in the story. It should be a subplot, not the plot. Perhaps I’m saying this too strongly, because the series did have a plot separate from the romance, but it was sometimes difficult to see through all the kissing.
Things I learned:
- Keep the romance in the background if possible. Don’t treat it as the main attraction unless your genre demands it (paranormal romance, romance, whatever).
- Speaking of structure, make sure things start happening to propel you toward the low point just as the events from the midpoint start dying down. The midpoint should be big and important, but it will die down eventually. When it does, start making things go wrong for the low point, because if you don’t you get a sagging second act.
- Make sure you know how you’re going to introduce the history of your world. This book used the old man in the wilderness technique to give backstory, but it worked. Why? Because the main character was in conflict with him. The main character knew his world’s history one way, but the old man was telling his version of the truth– which one to believe? It was a pretty good way to make things seem more difficult.
And now for The Runaway King. I listened the first book in this trilogy a few months ago in audiobook format, and although I didn’t review it here, it was extremely good. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and all the conflicts coming from every side. It had a stand-alone plot that still made it clear the story wasn’t done– akin to the ending of Iron Man. I was eager to read this sequel. It didn’t disappoint me.
It came up with another stand-alone plot, exploring new parts of this medieval world and uncovering forgotten histories. The stakes grew ever higher as the story progressed, and at a few points I was sure the main character would have to be rescued. But, against all odds, he managed to pull off what could probably be described as a heist. It was a fun book.
Things I learned:
- Stand-alones are awesome, especially serial stand-alones such as this.
- Make sure your explanations make sense. Although Nielsen is a master of vague explanations, the ending of this book was a little weird. After much thought, I managed to figure out what they were talking about, but it was a little too vague for me. Remember– don’t talk down to your readers, but don’t assume omniscience.
- Know your plot twists. By all means, make it difficult for the main character by giving them injuries, but don’t make it sickening. There were a couple twists that just seemed far too painful. At least it all worked out in the end, though. So the point is, don’t make your stories too dark or too painful.
And lastly, Found. This is the third book in the Magic Thief trilogy by Sarah Prineas, the first book of which I reviewed in the Dystopian Edition of Mini-Reviews. I enjoyed the first book, and the second and third books did not disappoint. I enjoyed the world, the characters, the magic. I can’t help but compare this series to Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series, because I think they were meant to be compared. I liked this trilogy better than Septimus Heap, mostly for the style. The third-person omniscient in Septimus Heap kept me detached from the characters, but the style in the Magic Thief kept me involved with them. In fact, I loved the style so much I unashamedly copied it for Arson.
Things I learned:
- Introverts are great conversationalists inside their heads. I should know this by now.
- Confidence through the narrative wrecks suspense even worse than confidence through actions. You can act confident and be scared stiff inside, but to be scared stiff on the outside and confident inside… it doesn’t work so well. Be careful with that.
- Don’t waste too much time between reading the book and thinking up the things you’ve learned from it, because it really doesn’t help matters.
That’s that. I hope you enjoyed this edition of Mini-Reviews. If you’ve read the books, I hope I’ve represented them well– if you haven’t, I hope you decide to go read them. They’re all excellent.