Tuesday, August 8, 2017
The Son of Soron by Robyn Wideman
One of the most common tools in writing a fantasy story is the structure of "The Hero's Journey". All types of fantasy stories from The Hobbit to Star Wars have used this formula. It works fairly well in most cases and, as long as there is something new and inventive added to keep the story interesting and avoid predictability, can make for a good story. However, if you do not add anything new or inventive then you get stories like this.
Nathan Stoneblood is a young boy living a simple life in a simple village with his blacksmith father and potion-maker mother. But when tragedy strikes Nathan's home village, he soon discovers the truth of who he is: that he is the descendent of not one, but two royal bloodlines. This not only means that he has claim to two of the greatest kingdoms in the world but he's also a perfect blend of strength and magic found in his parents' home countries. Nathan must step out into the world and protect those he holds dear from those who would do them further harm.
Sounds pretty generic as far as fantasy stories go, doesn't it? Well...yeah. Yeah, it really is. This story is so formulaic that I pretty quickly got impatient with it. Especially when, for a story that sticks to such a well-known formula, it goes so slow! It takes forever to get anywhere in this book, mostly because we keep stopping to focus on just how friggin' amazing and perfect Nathan is at everything! Yup, Nathan is yet another Gary Stu. Everything that this kid takes on, he learns it in almost no time at all. He's fourteen and in the span of this book, he becomes a master blacksmith, potion-maker, bowman, horseback rider, fighter, magic-user AND strategist. I'm sorry but...that's just way too much! Nothing, nothing, is a struggle for this character. He takes everything on with perfection so when he gets the point in the book where "he might not make it out alive" we're not worried about him because he's handled everything else so perfectly there's no way he can lose!
The side characters aren't much better, I have to say. Ava, our love interest, is so annoying and rude and picky that I honestly felt Nathan should leave her whining butt behind and move on to greener pastures. Nathan's parents are there for almost half the book being the most perfect parents this world has ever known before you know what eventually happens (because what else happens to perfect parents in fantasy stories?!) His uncle comes in and just kind of serves as a bland mentor figure. The villain...I honestly forgot all about him for a long time and is just generically evil wanting money and power and yada yada. You care absolutely nothing for anyone in this book. They're just stand ins for every fantasy character you've ever read in your life.
The story crawls at a snail's pace as loose ends that we don't even care about are taken care of in great and boring detail. We spend days with Nathan reestablishing trade routes and showing off how awesome he is and making friends with freaking everyone! Imagine that a good twenty minutes of Star Wars was devoted to Luke selling his uncle's moisture farm and instructing the new owners everything there is to know about moisture farming. Be pretty boring wouldn't it? That's what this story does. It just goes on and on about mundane things or going over plot points already discussed so that the reader just gets bored waiting for something to actually happen. But even when things do happen, Nathan handles it all so perfectly that there's no reason to be worried. There's no suspense, there's no tension, there's barely any conflict outside of two battles against Evil McEvilface (like I'm going to remember such a boring villain's name) and some bandits. Other than that, it's long stretches of exposition that does nothing to enthrall the audience.
Lastly, I think the editor needed to go over this one a couple more times. I found so many grammatical errors that I was honestly kind of shocked. I've never seen this kind of problem of this scale in a published book before. Sometimes you find some, like an uncapitalized word or a missing punctuation mark. But here? I found wrong words, missing periods, missing commas, uncapitalized words and tons more! The most excitement I get out of a book really shouldn't be counting all the errors I find throughout the thing.
Boring, uninventive, not very well written, this one is just a mess. Lots of buildup for very little reward. Unlike A Quest of Heroes where it was so cliche is was kind of hilarious, this one wasn't even "so bad it's good" material. In the end, I'm sorry to say our first book of a new year is the first to go into the Waste Bin of Despair.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer
Next Time: Swan Lake, this is not....