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Monday, August 12, 2013

"Seven Princes: Books of the Shaper #1" by John R. Fultz (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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OVERVIEW: It is an Age of Legends.

Under the watchful eye of the Giants, the kingdoms of Men rose to power. Now, the Giant-King has slain the last of the Serpents and ushered in an era of untold peace and prosperity. Where a fire-blackened desert once stood, golden cities flourish in verdant fields.

It is an Age of Heroes.

But the realms of Man face a new threat-- an ancient sorcerer slaughters the rightful King of Yaskatha before the unbelieving eyes of his son, young Prince D'zan. With the Giant-King lost to a mysterious doom, it seems that no one has the power to stop the coming storm.

It is an Age of War.

The fugitive Prince seeks allies across the realms of Men and Giants to liberate his father's stolen kingdom. Six foreign Princes are tied to his fate. Only one thing is certain: War is coming.

Some will seek glory.
Some will seek vengeance.
All will be legends

FORMAT: Seven Princes is the first book in the Books of the Shaper series. It has an epic fantasy, sword and sorcery feel to it. It stands at 526 pages and was published by Orbit on January 3, 2012.  

ANALYSIS: I picked up Seven Princes with rather high hopes. Words such as 'wonderful epic fantasy', 'gripping', and other nouns were used to describe the book, and when it comes to a new epic fantasy I couldn't pass it up. Unfortunately, the experience I had with this novel didn't live up to anything I had heard about the book.

Entering Seven Princes, I thought that the concept for the book was rather captivating. It wasn't unique by any means, but it had the potential to create a good epic fantasy. Unfortunately, I think the execution of the book took what could have been a decent fantasy novel and turned it into something less than stellar.

Seven Princes is almost told in narrative style writing. It feels as if the writer is hearing about the story long after it has happened and just looking in from the outside. This combined with the extremely stilted conversations between characters makes it hard for readers to really connect with anything that happens with the novel.

There were major scenes, such as the massive massacre, where I just felt devoid of any emotion. I am not entirely sure if this is because it felt like I was reading a news story and being told just the facts, because I couldn't connect with anyone, or the author just failed in his attempt to make one strong character that any reader would bond with or care about.

In addition to the rather mundane character development and narrative style writing, there were pacing issues. The pacing of the novel is slow, extremely slow. This, unfortunately, made most of what happened in the book seem predictable. The events and scenes just seemed to drag on and on, so much so that I could see what was happening pages or even chapters before it happened.

The novel really starts to slow down in the middle. It was approximately 200 pages to the end and I struggled. It was at that point that I felt conversations between characters were just thrown around, the predictable nature of the book had hit an all-time high, and I struggled. I eventually finished it, but it took me longer than I had expected.

It should be noted that this is John R. Fultz's debut novel. I think Fultz has talent and a very creative mind, I just think I few things need to be ironed out to make future books a success. Items such as pacing, character development, and leaving a bit to the reader's imagination in terms of plot are all things that could have helped to make this novel a success.

Overall, I found Seven Princes a huge disappointment. There was so much promise with this novel, but unfortunately I don't think kept up that promise and fell flat.



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