Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Rise Of The Reaper - The Broken Lands #1
It seems that Danny's dreams were only the beginning...
Rise Of The Reaper is one of those books where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. It has all the magic ingredients for a perfect read. Magic, world building, friendship, peril, high stakes and a rich cast of characters. But while I liked it, I didn't love it.
Clocking in at 386 pages, Rise Of The Reaper isn't a quick read, and it's a book I feel would have benefited from a more ruthless edit. There's a lot of information to take in, a lot of worlds and history to get across and a lot of characters to get to grips with. The world building, and idea of numerous lands, some connected by portals, others sealed off for the safety of the rest, is superb, but the execution in getting all this information across is not easy going. The best comparison I can think of is JRR Tolkien and his Lord Of The Rings trilogy, with lots of surplus information that builds the world, but ultimately doesn't move the story along. There's a lot of meandering and a lot of plot threads are included which may have been better left for book two (or jettisoned entirely) to keep the plot tighter, and unfortunately a lot of this information comes from other characters sitting down and explaining things to the protagonists. There are some nice touches, like the introduction to the sport of Aquattrox, sort of like water polo on dagger-mouthed dolphins with water tornados (think what Quidditch is to Harry Potter) and a journey aboard a pirate ship to an otherwordly cove where the story really shines. I love this sort of stuff, where the reader is allowed to explore and see the world, rather than being given paragraphs of information about it, none of which is ever seen.
In a story like this, I like to have an anchor in the lead character. A grounding for the story and a constant in these shifting worlds, and while it was refreshing to see a quarter of friends in Danny, Katrina, Poppy and Russel, is makes for a confusion read at times. The pov changes between these four characters, sometimes from one paragraph to the next. Throw in their parents with their own stories, different lands and the people in them, prophecies and wars and I'm skipping back pages to try and remember who's who. Katrina, the first of the group to discover her own magic is my favourite character. Adventurous and determined with a sense of humour, I'd like to have read more of the story from her point of view. I think this sums up my biggest issue with the book. There's just too much going on, especially for the first book in a series, which usually means more and more is going to be introduced on top of the dangling plot threads.
Rise Of The Reaper is book one in The Broken Lands series, and now that the world are established I'm keen to see where this story goes from here. It sucks that some of the great supporting characters won't be back for reasons I won't go into because of spoilers, but it's a promising start to a new series. Hopefully I'll get more answers than question out of book two ...