Tag Archives: Penguin books

Book review: Knights of the Borrowed Dark, by Dave Rudden.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. Or was it? It wasn’t good, that’s for sure.
I planned to read this within three days, but it was so bad, I ended up taking five. It is cliché, it is pretentious, it is slow, and it is boring.

The main thing that I didn’t like about this book was the characters. Denizen, the central protagonist, was only thirteen years old, which is far too young for a book like this. None of his dialogue, actions, and reactions were that of a thirteen-year-old. On top of this, the writing style did not match his age, at all.
He and all of the other characters were also for cliche and overplayed. There was not a single character in that book that had their own defining traits. Absolutely nothing to make them anything more than rehashings of previously seen – seen many times before – characters.
The same thing can be said about the plot. A young kid, down on their luck, finds out a big family secret and quickly becomes a hugely important character for no reason at all, and somehow saves the day. This is possibly the most overused narrative in the children’s/young adults fantasy genre, and this book plays it down to the very last sentence.
While on the topic of the plot, let’s talk about the plot holes and massive lack of information and detail.
Rudden has put so much of his book down to plot convenience. Not only is there a huge lack of information given to the reader about the story, the characters, and the fantasy world, but there is also a number of times when the story only progressed because things happened in an unrealistic way. Take the beginning of the book for instance: *SPOILER ALEART* when the villains come to find and kill the central protagonist, they leave him because he didn’t instantly show his power when they thought he should have. Putting aside the fact that these are villains who want to come and desroy the entire world, and who live on misery and despair, why would they leave him alive anyway if they thought he would be a threat. They’re villains.
Dave Rudden is a lazy writer. I have no doubts about it.

There are no interesting character connections in the book. No one to empathise with. No one to get attached to. No interesting romances to follow. Nothing. It’s as though they’re all traitless blobs trapped in a human skin.
A similar thing can be said about the story. Where is the intrigue, Dave? Where is the suspense? Where is the writing that makes you want to read on? It was so dull. I only finished it in the hope that eventually something interesting would happen. It didn’t.
The action sequences were lousy and short in detail. The dialouge was as plain as blank paper. There was a very poor balance of emotions. So much so that, I didn’t feel any. I think I maybe laughed once.

I want to say that the shock and awe factor was good, with the few suprise end reveals, but I would be lying.
Although the reveals were rather shocking, they were unnecessary. As were many of the things that went on in this book. Rudden has attempted to build mysteries within his work, but actually he has just added pointless filler.
The only thing I can genuinely say was quite good is his descriptions. His descriptions are creative and vivid.

I think it’s safe to say I did not enjoy this book, for many, many reasons. I would reccomend this to a younger audience, perhaps of around twelve years of age. More specifically, twelve year olds who enjoy stereotypical fantasy.




Book Review: Riverkeep, by Martin Stewart.

I seem to be at a perplexing standstill with this book. On the one hand, it is a superbly written and beautifully crafted book, full of wonders and woes, magic and might, and has elements of some great literary pieces in there. On the other hand, I don’t like it. At least, not as much of one as I probably should be, given how much I appreciate the book and Martin Stewart’s writing.
Let’s just get to the review, shall we.

One thing for sure is that Stewart played off many other stories and writers. An obvious one being The Wizard of Oz. Another glaringly obvious one is Moby Dick.
As I pointed out in my last review, on Six of Crows, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in this case, I feel like Martin has used other works far too heavily for inspiration and has created something rather unoriginal.
And another thing that bugs me the story is that it seems to have no point to it. Wull, the central protagonist of Riverkeep, goes on this amazing journey full of wondrous people and grand adventures, but it all amounts to nothing. This is possibly the most anti-climactic book I have ever read.

On a more positive note, Martin’s writing is poetic and vivid and paints a great picture of the world he has created, albeit using other people’s worlds to do so.
The language he uses reflects well the dark, gloominess of the story, and he matches his vocabulary perfectly with the time and place in which the book is set.
Having said that, the dialogue he uses is extremely annoying. I get that not all characters are always going to speak in a manner you would want them to, but, damn! The characters’ dialects in this book are the most annoying I have ever had to read. I genuinely nearly put the book down a couple of times because of it.
I also felt that, at times, Martin got a little carried away with his writing, coming off not as smart and well-read, but pretentious and pompous.

I am assuming that Martin wished to leave his book with a sense of mystery about it, ending it how he did, but what he actually did was leave a bunch of loose ends that leave the book incomplete, and the reader (me) feeling unfulfilled with said reading.

Something else that I found with this book, and this may be just me, is that it took me a rather long while, a few chapters or so, maybe more, to even realise what was going on and to recognise where the book was heading. Later in the book, I ended up not paying very much attention to what I was reading, because even though there was a lot going on as the story progressed, I didn’t find any of it compelling.
A lot of what happened seemed unnatural, even for a fantasy book, like a lot of what happened would never actually happen the way it did.
Having said this, I must give points to Martin for creating emotion in me as a reader. For the most part, I was neutral toward the book and all the inhabitants of its pages, but one scene in particular, and one character stood out for me. I won’t say what happened, nor name the character in question, but I will say that I was left very shocked and surprised, in a good way, after the scene; and after what happened with said character, I almost wanted to cry.

I definitely disliked more about this book than what I favored of it, but it did have its good times, and most certainly deserves its merits for Martin’s writing.
All in all, I would say it is a good book, but I personally did not like it. An acquired taste, for sure.

I would recommend this to the older side of the young-adult audience, and fans of classic books, in particular.