Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Silver Lake

Fiona Patton
Completed 2/20/2019, Reviewed 2/21/2019
2 stars

I found the first book of the Warriors of Estavia series to be very standard fantasy fare.  It had thieving orphans, court intrigue, powerful gods, prophesy, and magic, but it was all put together in a way I found to be quite boring and a rather jumbled mess.  The were too many characters for my taste.  I found the bouncing back and forth between them to be disruptive rather than furthering the plot.  I think I would have enjoyed the story more if it had just followed two of the orphans without jumping through all the other characters. 

Brax and Spar are two youths in Anavatan, the magical city of the Gods on the shores of the Silver Lake. Their mentor is a thief, so naturally, the boys are thieves too.  They are the scattered minority who have not pledged their lives to one of the six Gods of Anavatan.  One day, their mentor is murdered by temple guards, though not without provocation.  The boys are on their own now.  The violent weather that separates the winter from the spring is upon them.  It is a time of danger for the unpledged, for it is three nights when the wild spirits of the outside try to break into Anavatan.  On one such night, to save themselves from the evil spirits, Brax pledges his life to Estavia, the God of Battles.  Now pledged, the boys go to the temple of Estavia where they are welcomed, given new mentors, and trained in the ways of the servants of Estavia.  Little do they know that another street urchin, Graize, was out on that dangerous night and has become a conduit for a new godling, one who is embraced by the enemies of Anavatan and just may be able to break through the city walls.

One of the biggest problems of the book for me was the prophesy.  Spar has the gift, but he is untrained.  It uses him more than he uses it.  Graize also has the gift as the result of his interaction with the new godling.  I often found it difficult to follow their visions.  Sometime they came through dreams, sometimes when awake, sometimes in italics, sometimes not.  I almost always found them confusing.

Another problem I had was technical in nature.  It was the first time I encountered garbled text.  There were three such spots with garbled text, one towards the beginning and two towards the end.  The garbling included incomplete words and letters scattered randomly amongst the word fragments.  It added to my feeling that the story itself was a jumbled mess, just like the text.

I liked the character of Spar.  While all the characters were more or less cookie cutter, he had an interesting progression.  Spar goes through a period after his first mentor’s death where he won’t talk to anybody.  He finds solace in his new mentor’s dog, something I found to be very unusual for a fantasy story and very interesting.  We got a taste of Spar’s PTSD and some of the therapy he had to overcome it.

I give this book two stars out of five.  I read another book by Fiona Patton, The Stone Prince, which I liked, so I had high hopes for this book.  This book even featured a gay male couple as the new mentors of the orphan boys.  While their parts were somewhat interesting, and their affection for their wards heartwarming, it wasn’t enough to carry the whole book.  I think I would have liked the book more if it just followed the perspective of Brax and Spar without jumping around to Graize, the mentors, and other characters.  Their stories could have been told through the eyes of Brax and Spar and maybe provided a little more continuity to the story, and better character development of the boys.

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