Kathryn's Reviews > Across the Face of the World

Across the Face of the World by Russell Kirkpatrick
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Jan 02, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: books-of-2009, fantasy
Read in January, 2009

The front cover quotes Trudi Canavan as saying “Not since Tolkien have I been so awed.” In scope at least, this first book of a trilogy is comparable to LOTR. Kirkpatrick has certainly done plenty of world building but the characters aren't really very fleshed out, for the most part, except maybe Lieth, the protag. He’s a total geek, and he knows it. He wishes he could be more normal and attract the attention of the girl he likes, and having a cripple for a brother and his father mysteriously disappear on king’s business makes him all the more angsty. But eventually he starts to grow up, and at least attempt to fill the role of the man of the house. Then his father reappears secretly. He tells his family that he is being pursued by four lethal warriors, Maghdi Dasht, or Lords of Fear, and that they must leave their sleepy village. But before anyone can do anything, the Maghdi Dasht arrive, kidnap Leith’s parents and leave Leith and his brother, Hal, for dead. Turns out that Leith’s father is a retired spy and knows some very sensitive and dangerous secrets. So Leith and his brother enlist the help of some of the more stouthearted villagers and go after his parents.



There was a lot of potential but parts of it just fizzled out and left me not wanting to finish the book, at all. I did, because after a few days of rest I was curious enough to see what happens, but for the record, I hate multiple story lines. Two is testing my patience; three is truly irritating. And that’s probably what did this book in for me. When one story line left off and it switched to another is generally where I found my stopping places. Just when I get good and involved in what’s going on, we switch to see how these characters are doing, and instead of plowing on to get back to the storyline I was most interested in, I get exasperated and give up. Another problem that kept me from fully enjoying the book was the character of Stella, the girl Leith’s in love with. I simply don’t quite get her, and I wish that Kirkpatrick had spent more time developing her character. She seems rather unlikable at first, but becomes more sympathetic as the story goes on, but I just wish we had gotten more than a few glimpses inside her thoughts and motivations.

I also want to point out that while I understand how making the religion very similar to Christianity might make the world a little more identifiable to readers, and may even be a way for the author to make a point, I for one prefer an author to make up their own. Although so far I can't tell exactly if he is critiqueing Christianity or supporting it--there are a lot of questions that people ask of God in real life that are asked in this book (but not adequately answered by the believers), such as why would a good god let bad things happen, why doesn't God speak directly to mankind anymore, etc.... All in all, though, it was a good first effort. Kirkpatrick just needs to spend more time developing his characters.

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