Thursday, 28 March 2013

Review: Athame

Athame by Morgan Alreth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. The original story and likeable characters more than made up for some editing issues and a derivative setting.

There are some lovely bits of writing that made me smile, or even chuckle. "Breakfast consisted of looking at last night's rabbit bones and wistfully licking their lips", for example. Unfortunately, there are also typos, missing words, errors like your/you're, it's/its, other missing or misplaced apostrophes, occasional incorrect tense, and the word "inn" consistently and unnecessarily capitalized. Compound adjectives are sometimes, but not always, hyphenated, and there isn't always a comma before the name of someone who's being addressed. Compared with many other indie books I've read, this isn't bad. The author doesn't use fancy words that don't mean what he thinks they mean, and a couple of passes by a reasonably competent proofreader would sort out the issues easily. The sentences mostly flow well, and the descriptions are workmanlike. I'll award three stars for language, given the general competence of the writing.

I liked the characters immediately. Pete is good-hearted and willing to try anything and persevere. Jess cares deeply about doing the right thing and is tough and competent. None of the other characters develop, but they're distinct and well-drawn. The main characters are also proactive, setting out to do things rather than just watching things happen. A strong four stars for characters.

The plot isn't, thankfully, one of the usual three epic fantasy plots. It's original, not predictable, and (to me, anyway) engaging, largely because I cared about the main characters. It doesn't rely on character stupidity or coincidence, either. It's not a complex plot, but it's well-handled. Four stars for plot.

The setting is not so original. Apart from the ghaunts, all the creatures were standard issue, and the kingdom was your basic fantasy kingdom: king, nobles, peasants, medieval technology, priests of several gods, magic. The magic, too, was the rather worn four elements type, though I liked what the author did with it. I also liked the fact that the nobles were a bit more like actual medieval nobles (that is, nasty bastards) than is often the case in high fantasy. A highish three stars for setting.

Overall, a definite four stars, and I will be buying the sequel.

Through The Kindle Book Review, I received a free copy of this
book for an independent, fair, and honest review. KBR are not
associated with the author or Amazon.

View all my reviews

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