Review: The Rise of the Fallen

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Posted on : 5/31/2018 10:17:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

The Rise of the Fallen The Rise of the Fallen by Peter Fugazzotto
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second book that I have read from this author. I think he's steadily progressing.

The world of this book includes a heavily overgrown jungle. As with a lot of dark and warm places, there are lots of fungi. The characters in this book have discovered how to use various fungi as armor, health restoratives, stimulants, etc.

The story centers on a group of disgraced palace guards. They were dismissed and sent off to experience torture at the hands of some noble. The king eventually decides to end their torture and let them live out their lives in exile in an old fortress.

A couple of the group leaves the fortress and wanders around with a group of pirates. They eventually come across a mysterious boy who eventually turns out to be the only surviving child of the king.

One of the disgraced guards had been captured as a child when she was abandoned (perhaps) during one of her father's pirate raids on the kingdom. She is adopted by the queen where she is repeatedly abused and demeaned. Eventually, her size makes her a likely candidate for training in the palace guard.

The other disgraced guard views the boy as a way for them to recover their honor. He suggests that returning the boy will mean that they will be welcomed back by the king. On the other hand, she is skeptical about that result and resists taking the boy home. She would rather just drop him off with the first government agent (or safe village) they can find.

The inventiveness of the worldbuilding was really quite good. Using fungus in so many ways was quite unique. The author adeptly engages the reader with interesting characters living in a jungle environment.

My single largest complaint is the attitude switch that occurs for no reason in the middle of the book. Where the male guardsman sees the return of the king's son as a rare chance at redemption early on, he is against the idea in the latter half of the book. Conversely, the female character is against returning the boy to the king in the early chapters as essentially switches positions with the male guardsman and becomes devoted to protecting the boy and dedicated to his return at the same point in the story.

A lesser issue has to do with the motivation of the disgraced guards to return to an honorable position. They have been so thoroughly abused and discarded, it is hard to see them as ever wanting to return. The lead character who was adopted by the queen was additionally abused as a child, yet she believes this queen loves her and longs to return to her. Those motivations make little sense within the context of the book.

With the significant exception of those "what the what??" moments, this was an enjoyable and engaging book.

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Review: Her Sky Cowboy

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Posted on : 5/31/2018 02:12:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

Her Sky Cowboy Her Sky Cowboy by Beth Ciotta
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Did not finish. 2 stars to be charitable. I think I made it to chapter 5.

Steampunk is a difficult genre for me. An author does not necessarily have to explain how all technology works in their fictional world. But some of it should be explained and the explanation needs to make some sense as well as being reasonably consistent. (the same goes for magic, but that doesn't apply here)

In this case, the author just assumes the reader will buy in by just talking about technology as if it were window dressing.

I also dislike characters that emote their way to a solution.

In this case, the character went on ad nausea about how socially constrained she was. It wasn't something that was evident from her interaction with other characters. The extensive internal monologues were mind-numbing.

I have read many stories with characters that were similarly constrained by social constructs. The best stories not only feature an illustration of those constraints via interaction with other characters, they also feature constrained characters that spend more time figuring out how to escape those constraints than they do complaining about being constrained. In that way, the characters explain how those constraints were a detriment to the society as opposed to a personal impediment to "fulfillment".

Strong female characters escaping social constraints don't bother me. Whiny female characters do.

While I don't read a ton of romance, I have read some. I can't comment on the quality of that aspect of the book as it had yet to develop.

I might have stuck with the book if it were a stand-alone novel. As the first of a series, I just couldn't see investing myself in it.

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