al gritten

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Smashwords book reviews by al gritten

  • Wolf's-head, Rogues of Bindar Book I on Oct. 29, 2011
    (no rating)
    Early in the book, one of the characters proclaims to another, "“An eloquent remark for one so vulgarly inebriated." Indeed, the tale is plagued by eloquence - in fact it is an eloquence that is seemingly out of place among such a plebeian, common-placed folk. The author has a vast command of vocabulary, but while his language skills are impressive they are out of place among the commoners that occupy the wharf town of Heagram. I admire the writer's command of vocabulary, or thesaurus, but they interfere with the story and perhaps the best development of the characters. As I began the book, I thought that perhaps it was his intention convey a sense of the archaic, but if so, he has perhaps gone too far. The language overpowers the characters. It also overpowers what plot there is - which is thin. I was fully three-quarters of the way through the book before the plot made any sense at all, and then it was weak. Between his use of language and the length of time it took to develop his plot, I found the book tedious to read and struggled to get through it. I would like to give the author the benefit of the doubt, but found very little in this book to regard or recommend.
  • Enchantress of Rurne on Nov. 16, 2011

    Note: this review contains spoilers!! This is my second read of a Turner book and while this one is better, I am disappointed. In this novella, as well as the first book, I find that the story line is somewhat lacking. Taar seeks to avenge the death of his master and retrieve a stolen artifact. But his quest is interrupted by the sorceress who binds him to her so he can be the sacrifice that will release her from her demonic captivity. But the demon catches them unawares and defeats Taar and takes the Enchantress into the shadow world. So Taar goes on with is quest, finds those who killed his master, kills them and gets back the artifact. My synopsis is only slightly shorter than the story. While I think there is a good idea and a good story here, there is too much detail left out, the characters are not fully developed and at the conclusion the reader is left to ask why did we even hear the story of the enchantress? What was the point? Why did Taar need the artifact and what is next? I understand that this is part of a larger collection and perhaps these questions are answered in the larger collection, but as a stand alone work, it leaves too many things unanswered.
  • Aaron & Keja: Time Dragon (Orgarlan Saga: Book 1) on Nov. 18, 2011

    I received a free copy of this e-book in exchange for a review. The author has a vivid imagination and I believe she has a strong story line. However, her writing style is awkward and the story is not fully developed in its characterization. She writes, in many places, in the passive voice which makes the writing awkward and difficult to read. She tends to switch between active and passive voice and while that is an issue, it is not the only issue. She also has several places where her verb tenses do not agree. For example, in one paragraph where she seeks to explain the background to the feud between the elves, she writes, "After Ky’debaul finished his studies, he challenged Sarkus to a battle. This turned out to be a turning of time for the elven population. Their peoples were entered into a time of evil under the new rule of Ky’debaul. All elves had to accept his rule or be executed. Shortly after which, humans entered into bondage in their kingdom. This caused the ending of centuries of comradeship between the two races." This would be a much stronger paragraph in the active voice. Additionally, the characters dialogue is stilted and the narrative, at times, is forced. This adds to the difficulties for the reader. Also, the story would be more compelling if she offered additional plot details. For example, the two worlds will be destroyed if the dragon isn't returned and the rift closed, but she doesn't explain why. The prophecy of the human and the dog, title characters, is assumed by the other characters, but not really explained so that the reader can follow the interchanges between the various characters. Finally, she muddies her metaphors, as in one example, "Like a ritual the leaves cross the floor of the forest like that of a colorful carpet..." creating a confusing analogy that is, unfortunately, repeated again and again. All of these issues inhibit the flow of the story. I believe there is a great story here, but it is hindered by the linguistic problems and mistakes. A really good edit would help this book tremendously along with some added depth to the characters and their dialogue.
  • Finding Fiona on Dec. 09, 2011

    Who is Fiona? That is the question that Ward builds her novel around. This is a well built sci-fi thriller that rapidly draws the reader into the story. Fiona has amnesia, but why? She has snippets of memory that come to her in dreams or nightmares. As the story unfolds we discover that Fiona is really Elizabeth Normans. But Elizabeth and her parents were killed in a fire that destroyed her parents lab and their life's work - replication. So, who is Fiona? Is she Elizabeth or a replication? This is a fast paced thriller, but despite the mystery around Fiona, it's not really a whodunit. We discover rather quickly whodunit. They mystery here revolves around whether Fiona is Elizabeth or a replication. Ward writes well with a style that is engaging and easy to read, and in a classic style that doesn't reveal too much too soon, keeping the pages turning. "Finding Fiona" explores a relevant subject in our modern world where cloning is becoming a reality and the questions of identity arise. A la Frank Herbert ("The Dosadi Experiment" and "Destination: Void"), she explores the issue of who is real and who is not. What creates identity? Is it our fingerprints, our DNA, our memories - what makes us real? And if you are the replication than perhaps you are left to ask who am I? The only criticism I have of the book is simply that I wish she had developed this theme a bit more deeply. However, she leaves room for the reader to ask the questions, even as she explores the answer for her character as she seeks to find Fiona.