Amanda's Reviews > Vessel

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
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's review
Oct 05, 12

bookshelves: fantasy, twas-good
Read from October 03 to 05, 2012

Do not let my three-out-of five rating deceive you, this was a beautiful book, and I enjoyed it immensely. The world was rich in a mythology of its own, which added a touch of history to the culture and background that Durst created.

I appreciated many things in Vessel. The first being that it is a standalone fantasy novel. I've noticed an increasing amount of fantasy series, specifically marketed at a YA audience, and it's been difficult for me to find an enjoyable standalone novel in that genre. I truly recommend this for anyone looking for a fantasy read geared towards a younger audience, although not quite would I call this fantasy-lite per se, as it has more depth in terms of worldbuilding than YA fantasies such as Throne of Glass or even Seraphina . I suppose, for fans of The Emperor's Knife , you would find that Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst lies in the same vein.

Similar to The Emperor's Knife the world of Vessel takes us to a desert land, parched and scorched, although in this novel, we get more of a feel of the wastelands. The world is inhabited by nomad clans, whilst an empire stands upon its borders. In addition to the empire, we also visit five of the many clans, and catch brief glimpses of their different ways of life. The tribes, the peoples, are so different from one another, meaning also a variety of ethnics.

(view spoiler)
For this, I am truly appreciative of a non-white heroine .

The plot itself keeps us engaged. Although a fair amount of the beginning is spent on travels across barren wastelands, we are still prodded forwards with promises of a greater mystery : someone has stolen the gods and goddesses, preventing them from returning to the world and helping the clans from surviving a century-long drought that has been plaguing them. Who, and why, is up to our heroine and her band to discover.

If you read the synopsis, you may get the impression that this is a romance fantasy. To avoid any disappointments, I feel the need to clarify that, although we are presented with elements of romance -- and a vestige of the all-time dreaded love triangle -- romance is in no way a propelling force of this novel . And for that, I am greatful.
But here, I'm going to have to stop singing praises and get down to what I do best -- griping. I should make it clear that I liked the characters - I liked Korbyn, and I liked Liyana. I could definitely see their interactions leading towards a romance, and their meeting wasn't exactly laced with love-at-first-sight. These are all positive things, of course. However, I was not fully satisfied with the development of their relationship . I felt as if more time and more depth could have gone into their interactions, and more thought processes that went beyond He is so handsome and perfect and good looking and I love the way he laughs would have been preferable before Liyana started falling for him.
As it were, the relationship -- not only between those two in particular, but also between and amongst all the other characters -- seemed rushed and half-hearted.

Since I am on the topic of characters, I should also add that although I liked Liyana as a heroine; although she was resourceful, intelligent, and generally all-round likable, I just couldn't feel her. The same applies to Korbyn, and also to the emperor. I adored Korbyn, I really did. His witticism, his selflessness ... and the fact that he wasn't unbearable as a potential love interest. But I never grew attached to him. I'm not quite sure why, but I never felt connected to any of the characters - which is such a pity, as I liked most of them. Perhaps they felt a little too unreal? A little like fleeting shadows?

My Gripes end there, though. The ending was ...... touching. Sad. I felt as if I could have cried - but not quite there. Again, perhaps because of my investment on the characters weren't as rooted as I would have liked. But there you have it. Perhaps you'll feel more connected than I did; perhaps you'll enjoy it far more than I. At any rate, if you're looking for a quick fantasy read, one with a hint of romance, with adventure and monsters and a heroine who can fend for herself, then you should definitely give this one a chance.

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