This has been a pretty good year for me for reading. I haven't come across that many real stinkers. I've fou...more
A close approximation of the female lead.
This has been a pretty good year for me for reading. I haven't come across that many real stinkers. I've found some new favorite books and authors, including Chuck Wendig, Ben Aaronovitch, and Guy Gavriel Kay. Lucky me.
That said, I'm sad for myself that I spent time reading this. Thankfully I bought it at a used book store, so I think I'm only out about $1.75. A lot of people are intrigued by the magic system. "Oh it's so unique!" they cry. To that, I ask, "really?" Yes, it's a cool idea and all, but it's also sort of shitty. The idea is a subject will grant his/her leader or ruler "endowments" of their body, whether it is strength, wit, metabolism, or basically, anything from a D&D character sheet. The bad guy, Raj Ahten, extracts endowments from people unwillingly, and his character sheet is something like this:
STR Modifier: 1,000 DEX Modifier: 1,000 CON Modifier: 1,200 WIS Modifier: 2,000 (way more than is necessary, and he even says so.) INT Modifier: 1,000 CHA Modifier: 14,000,000 (he feels pretty, and witty, and gaaay!)
The crux to Raj Ahten is that he claims he's acquiring all these endowments in order to more ably fight humanity's enemies, the Reavers. But he's a Bad Guy because he takes endowments from prisoners and wants to rule everyone. Keep that in mind.
The Hero, Gaborn's stats look a little more like this:
STR Modifier: 10 DEX Modifier: 12 CON Modifier: 12 WIS Modifier: 8? Maybe? INT Modifier: 14 CHA Modifier: 4 (not so much)
So he's more balanced. This is the fellow Farland chose to match up against Raj Ahten. Gaborn himself has taken some endowments himself, but not as many. This way, he's more human and approachable, got it? Farland makes it easy for his Good Guys to take endowments too, because anyone who's tasked with taking an endowment must take care of their subjects, sort of like a VA Hospital. If they die, you lose the endowment. You end up with towers, wagons, houses, or fortresses packed with invalids, and if you're Raj Ahten, and hit the road to a-go-a-warring, you pack them up and taken them with.
Are you following? The basis for good vs. evil isn't that you take the endowments, it's that you do it in a cuddly way, and that the person giving you all their bodily strength or eyesight really, really likes you. To me, it's like comparing "good" slave owners to "bad" slave owners. The author's tool for qualifying someone as good was too weak to be believed. I think the only reason Gaborn has fewer endowments than other Runelords is to make him more accessible to the reader, maybe giving the sense that he's not quite as suspect as the others.
This move completely undermines the moral compass the author attempts to establish.
Beyond the ridiculousness described above, the characters annoyed me. I hate when a character's looks count towards their importance or character. When the Love Interest, Iome, gets her panties all in a twist about (view spoiler)[ having her beauty sucked out by Raj Ahten and being demoted to Assistant Poop Cleaner (hide spoiler)], my eyes glazed over. The scene where she and Gaborn first meet was fucking annoying. The author actually, seriously, literally used Twu Wuv at First Sight. Really? Really. It's such a convoluted, inane plot device that it should be given a mercy killing.
Gaborn is bland. He always makes the right choice, always does the right thing, and his shit smells like roses, apparently.
I was so stunned by the interaction between Gaborn and every woman in the book, that I almost forgot that Twu Wuv shows up right in the beginning of the book. Gaborn is in a new city and plays matchmaker between his guard captain and a random woman they find in the street. What do Random Woman and Guard Captain do? They fucking go along with it! Are you kidding me?
Regretfully, I didn't finish the book. This doesn't happen often for me, but I just couldn't make myself read this when I've got The Blinding Knife chilling on my nightstand, staring at me and judging my life choices. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)