Monday, December 30, 2013

The Broken Crown: bringing the epic beginning after 5 prequels

The Broken Crown by Michelle West (The Sun Sword Book 1 of 6): Yeah, it's much more like the Hunter duology than The House War.  I lent these books to a friend of mine, and, though she said they were really hard to get into, she read them all and liked them in the end.  My respect for her has grown because I have no idea how she did that.  I mean, seriously.  If I didn't know from 5 other books what I do, I don't think I could follow the stories at all (or trusted the author to pull everything together in the end, for that matter).  The brief interactions and relationships between these people wouldn't have been as rich and poignant, and I would have been left with dry pieces wanting to know more. 

Maybe I sell myself short and my natural curiosity (and slowly increasing mental abilities) would have compelled me to read on to see if they author followed through, the same way I pushed through the Hunter books.  I'm glad I didn't have to find out, glad I waited and stumbled serendipitously into things in chronological order just as she is finishing up with these characters for now.  There are so many new characters and plot threads here, which is expected, and the appearances of cross-over characters make such sad and rich sense.  This early in, I've no real idea of where things are ultimately going, but I really trust this author to give me a great story and multi-dimensional characters I will crave to know more about.  I'll probably look around for short story scraps after I finish the books because I will snap up any additional information about these characters. 

What a gift this author has with characters, with making even the ones who appear briefly come alive as real people with pasts and (sometimes) futures, not just characters who interact with each other to push the story forward.  Too bad they take so much mental effort and time to get through. 

My main complaint at this point is that the cast of characters is not helpful.  People you need to look up later aren't on it, and people you don't know/care about/haven't met are in the most awkward and poorly organized way.  If the character is important, he or she should be listed in alphabetical order, with only the information you've learned in the book.  If the character is not important, the character should probably not even be named in the narrative and definitely shouldn't take up space in the cast list.

However, the cover art is a triumph.  I adore cover art that actually reflects the books content, especially when it shows events that happen late in the book, because then I can keep looking at the cover and wondering what it's depicting, and then, when the event happens, I can know it's the exact one on the cover.  Lovely and significant: excellent combination.

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