In a time of peace and treaties, the five kingdoms of Severi lay unguarded and open to the dark hearts of man. Terdune, a neighboring land that had been at constant war with Severi, was defeated over twenty years ago. All threats were eradicated and its lands left without a ruler. Now a new evil reigns in Terdune and slowly makes its way to its adjacent sister.
When Edwin’s village is attacked, he is forced to travel halfway across the second kingdom to the King’s Hold. Along the way he must learn the true power of the gifts that were bestowed upon him and discover the meaning of the dreaded fate attached to them.
This review is on the original content. The book is currently being revised to address the issues. I was asked to proceed with the blog review with this disclaimer.
In the book Five Kingdoms of Severi, you have a complete tale written in a high fantasy style. Since this is the first book in the series, there is quite a bit going on.
Dora does a nice job developing her world. There are a few points where there are issues, but the sense of distance traveled, and the settings for her characters do a nice job of helping to convey the size of the world. I’m guessing, the primary focus is on a kingdom about the size of Alaska or Texas.
Mostly, it has one type of landscape, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If the series expands into the other kingdoms, we might see a little wider variety.
This is where the issues being addressed really affected the story. Thankfully, the worst offender the homonym “reign” / “rein”, was consistent throughout. This made it a little easier to read past and not get stopped as you tried to guess which term she really meant to use.
The pacing is also affected by the book’s opening chapters. There is a lot of information, but it is presented in such a disjointed way, it can make keeping up with the central plot a bit difficult. There really are four sub-casts that have to be brought together, and so you wind up bouncing between the different groups as the action is starting to build. After a few days to sort through my impressions, I think the pacing was fairly steady, though a bit on the slow side overall. This often happens in epic fantasy. Especially in the first books of an extensive epic fantasy saga. If you had trouble with Terry Brooks’ Shannara books or Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, you will probably have difficulty getting into this one after it’s smoothed out. However, I think if you find either (or both) enjoyable, then this series will probably appeal to you.
I’m going to nitpick here, just because horses are almost an obsession. It wasn’t just the issue of proper terms for the tack that jarred me out of the story in the early chapters. It was also the description of the commands. The riders are using the reins to both get their mounts moving, and to make them stop. If you’ve ridden at all, you’ll know that it’s the legs/toes/heels that convince a horse to move, and the hands/body posture/body weight that tells the horse when to turn or stop. After multiple times of running across this issue, I began to wonder if the horses were mechanized, not living creatures.
This is the weakest part of the entire story. The characters are either young adult or fully mature adults. There is very little elapsed time in the story, so there is not much personal growth. The young adults either do or do not have the skills they need, and the adults come fully primed at their peak abilities.
There is one exception to this, but the scenes describing when he learns his skills windup unused later one, so wind up feeling like they are just padding and fluff to bulk up the page count.
This is a quest driven story, and so the character development is a secondary consideration. However, the tiny bit of personality development that occurs happens so late in the tale that it winds up swamped out by the events coming to a head for the climactic scenes.
Overall, this is a four star story with a two star presentation. I will put up another review after the revisions, because there is a lot of potential, and after contacting Dora and finding out some of the issues mentioned in here are already on the surgical table for repairs, I’d be interested to see how this reads once it’s smoothed out.
The knocked star is due to the lack of character development. They aren’t cardboard cutouts – there are flaws and virtues which make them individuals. But, they don’t sparkle with life either. They feel like an artist’s sketch that is being finished, but isn’t quite ready to be revealed yet. Again, the revisions may correct this problem, so for the time being I’ll reserve final judgement.