Kayt's Reviews > The Cadet of Tildor

The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
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's review
Jun 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read on April 15, 2013

In a fantasy medieval kingdom, Lady Renee de Winter is the only girl to have lasted this far training to be a Servant of the Crown at the royal Academy (a.k.a., training to be a knight). Unrest and political instability are threatening the new young king, and Renee is put to the test when the danger hits close to home.

What with all the comparisons to Tamora Pierce, I was both excited (medieval fantasy girl power action story!) and apprehensive (first novel and seriously who is as good as Tamora Pierce I am just setting myself up for disappointment). All of the above were justfied.

The Good

It's so nice to have a book that doesn't just hit a currently-popular genre and throw in a handful of tropes. The focus in this book isn't the situation that dictates the story (such as dystopian/apocalyptic books) or character's emotions (such as teenage-true-love, the focus of approximately 90% of all YA books right now), but Renee's journey to learn, to train, and to team up with others and resolve a bad situation.

The world seems interesting and is set up so you feel like it still exists beyond the scope of the story, rather than only things relevant to the immediate narrative being mentioned, which can lead to a flimsy world.

The villains are actually worthy of a story. Shades of gray exist. People usually use their brains. Characters actually collaborate.

The Bad. Or Less-Than-Good, Anyway.

First, Renee tends to see things as black or white. Now, that is a character flaw and it's something that is part of the story (rather than an annoying character trait we're stuck reading about), but that didn't stop me from wanting to shake her several times. She also has some maturing to do, but she is sixteen.

Capitalization. Students attend the Academy (OK-a name, a proper noun) to be either Magistrates (argh!) or Servants of the Crown, which almost makes sense, since it's a high position with a special name, but continually seeing "blah blah Servant," "yackitty Servant blabbity" drove me nuts. I wish a different title had been used (since I understand that an uncapitalized "servant" might have created confusion), or even just your basic "knight." Also, I think mages Heal people. Gargh.

The story could have used smoothing overall. Most characters, though not flat, felt lacking some depth. Renee's obstinacy contributed to a story that sometimes seemed to just plod from one point to the next. The world could have used more defining, especially how the Academy/training worked. Romance appeared, often clumsily.

Still, The Cadet of Tildor was good. It's a debut novel, so I can only hope that Alex Lidell will improve. The basis is already there for an expanded, interesting world. I think it got better as the book went on, which definitely bodes well. It's not at Tamora Pierce-levels yet: it needs more nuance, character- and world-building, but overall it was good, and I look forward to seeing what Lidell writes in the future.

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