Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: Knight Esquire

Knight Esquire
Knight Esquire by P.S. Power

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I felt annoyed, reading this book. Actually, I felt insulted.
The first in the series was a little rough. It was poorly punctuated and a bit rambling. But it was nothing like as bad as this.
This one reads like a first draft by someone who was typing too fast and whose grasp of basic spelling is loose, to say the least. (Or, as the author would quite likely spell it, "too say the lest".) The to/too confusion, in both directions, crops up frequently, though not consistently - at one point there are three consecutive sentences, and two of them have it right and the middle one is wrong. There are grocer's apostrophes, there are missing apostrophes, there are missing words in sentences, there are many, many incorrect homophones up to and including "he'd" for "head". It's a mess.
Part of the reason I say that I feel insulted is that this book is not, apparently, self-published. (That would be bad enough, because I think it's disrespectful to your readers to just slam your first draft up on Amazon without doing more than a cursory spell-check. People do it, but in my mind it's rude and less than professional.)
It's much worse if you're published by a small press. I've visited the publisher's website, and although P.S. Power's books are the majority of what they put out, there are other authors listed there, and they are advertising for submissions.
My advice would be not to send them any. If they have a copy editor - and this book doesn't show any evidence that they do - then that person is doing an incredibly poor job. That's disrespectful not only to the readers, but to the authors. They're basically adding no value beyond, possibly, getting a cover designed. I suppose that explains why they only take a 10% cut.
Even leaving aside the roughness of the English (which is hard to do, because it was just so bad), I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first in the series. The main character, Tor, spends about the first third of the book having a serious pity party and asking a tediously large number of rhetorical questions of himself. Then he perks up a little and starts replacing his monogamous lower-class sexual morality with that of the "royals" (which is how all the nobility, however far from the actual royal family, are referred to). This basically boils down to "extreme promiscuity from at least the mid-teens, persisting beyond marriage," and frankly I found it a little repellent. We're told at various places in the two books that people are sometimes jealous, but nobody actually seems to be, just like most of the nobility don't act like the dangerous high-handed despots that we're being told about either. They're described as something like actual medieval nobles (though there are hints that this is a post-apocalyptic future), but they act like hippies: peace, free love and egalitarianism, man. Oh, apart from the odd berserker rage, of course.
At one point in my reading I was considering, in the spirit of the main character's generosity, offering to do a free edit. The setting is interesting, the premise is fresh, the main character (apart from his tendency to go on and on, and his cluelessness, and the way he gets down on himself) is appealing and different. I've decided not to do that, though, for a few reasons.
Firstly, I couldn't find a web presence for the author where I could make contact. (I might not have looked hard enough, but the impression I get is that the author doesn't want to engage with readers. I couldn't even find out if P.S. Power is a man or a woman, or what country he or she lives in, though I'm betting on the USA based on the occasional clanging American colloquialism that gets randomly dropped into the middle of the prose.)
Secondly, editing is the job of the publisher they already have.
And thirdly, as I read on I liked the book less and less. Although I'd kind of like to know what happens next, I won't be buying the next one.
It's a pity. I thought I'd found a series I could enjoy, and was fully prepared to buy all of them. But this is a big letdown.

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