Amanda's Reviews > Dreams of the Ringed Vale

Dreams of the Ringed Vale by Robert Fanney
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's review
Apr 16, 2013

it was ok
bookshelves: meh, blog, cover-better-than-book
Read from May 10 to 21, 2012

Not too long ago, I read A Game of Thrones, an excellent fantasy novel with exceptional world building (with fantasy elements kept in moderation--just the way I like it), intrigue and suspense provided by a complex plot, and fully realized characters. That sucker grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

As a fantasy, Luthiel's Song failed because it lacked all of the above. It didn't grab me. Hell, it barely groped me. It was like the awkward boy who took you to the 10th grade dance and was so set on making a good impression that he barely made an impression at all. By the end of the night, you would have welcomed an attempt at copping a cheap feel because it would have given you a good story the next day to tell your friends and verify that he did, in fact, know of the existence of the bases. Suffice it to say, this book did not give me a good story to tell my friends. And I began to wonder if it even knew where the bases were.

In Luthiel's Song, the fantasy world was overkill and full of self-referential terms and concepts that are seldom clearly explained. Granted, that could have also been because tedium set in early on and I found myself not caring much about piecing all that mumbo-jumbo together. (Oh, and you know what really irks me? When fantasy novels have a "helpful" appendix in the back and half the words and terms you look up aren't listed.) We have elves, we have werewolves, we have talking animals, we have giant killer spiders, we have giants, we have dragons, we have fallen-angels-who-have-become-vampires, we have ghosts, we have wizards, we have valkyries, we have magic crystals, we have swords that are important enough to have names, we have portals between worlds. It's a bit like the author won a shopping spree at Ghouls R' Us. In other words, we have every fantasy trope and cliche under the two suns of Oesha (yup, even two suns).

The problem with all of this fantasy "clutter" is it leads to the second problem: weak characterization. The characters never really differentiate themselves based upon personality. We never know much about Luthiel other than, as an orphan, she has always felt out of place (and, like all orphans, she will predictably turn out to be more than she seems) and she loves her sister, Leowin, so much that she's willing to offer her life in her sister's stead when Leowin is chosen as a sacrifice for the Vyrl. Cue the adventure in which Luthiel will learn about herself as she encounters mystical threats and finds unlikely allies. Yawn.

Now, all of this might be a little more entertaining to someone who hasn't glutted themselves on fantasy as I have over the years. Most of this is predictable with a very "been there, done that" flavor. It's not necessarily that bad, but it's not necessarily that good. Instead of moving on to the next book in the series, I think it may be time to check out George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings. After all, those Lannisters know where the bases are.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
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Reading Progress

05/13/2012 page 23
05/20/2012 page 126
38.0% "It's just . . . so . . . boring . . ."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Carol. (new)

Carol. Love the 'good impression' analogy, as well as the shopping spree (although it sounds like she also stopped at Tropes 'R' Us). I'm looking forward to you being done for the school year and writing more awesome reviews!

Amanda Carol wrote: "Love the 'good impression' analogy, as well as the shopping spree (although it sounds like she also stopped at Tropes 'R' Us). I'm looking forward to you being done for the school year and writing ..."

I'm glad you enjoyed it! So many awkward teen experiences went into the creation of that analogy, but they were all worth it so I could mine them for book review gold here.

School finished on Tuesday and I spent all day Wednesday reading until my eyes nearly fell out. Unfortunately, most of that was catching up on my comic book issues, so no reviews there. But I also have a couple of books going right now, so hopefully I'll be posting more soon. I need to spend the summer reading just to reclaim some of the square footage in our home office. There are stacks of books everywhere.

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