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Had a chance, finally, to sit down and do some reading with my Tablet. Oh, the joys and time loss of being a new father.
Anyhow, on to the book review:
The Sword of Sighs in an interesting play on a typical trope. A regular person from Oklahoma is transported to a magical realm. While there, she joins with the local heroes and is told she must go on a quest to retrieve a mystic artifact that is tied to her and her alone. In the course of the adventure she finds out more about herself, the sword she is after, and the enemies the sword will be used to fight.
It’s a typical Fantasy plot, but Greg James makes it work for him rather than against him. There are many scenes of good character development and, unlike many in the trope, Sarah actually analyzes what she is doing and the why she is doing it. She does not automatically assume that the person who rescues her when she first arrives is a friend, nor does she immediately assume that they are telling the truth about the ‘Dark Riders’ and the foe her sword is meant for. There is some good rationalization and thinking in the character that makes it stand out from a lot of the fare that is out there.
The plot moves a long at a good pace. There are a few stretches between actions that feel a little long. I didn’t really want to spend as much time with Sarah as was necessary. This was not to say she is a bad character – she’s not – but that she was not my cup of tea. I had trouble reconciling her background and her growth as a character. This is just as much on me and my personal worldview as it is on the author – I don’t agree with it being executed the way it was as being realistic, but it is clear that James does and presents it as such. The conviction of his presentation is commendable and it left me feeling more that I was missing something than that James was making a mistake in his characterization of his main character.
The supporting cast is decently developed. I wouldn’t give them a full 3-D at this point, but they aren’t the typical fantasy counterparts that generally exist either. There are some real conflicts in their motivations and goals. I won’t get in to specifics, as several of those conflicts are relevant to the main plot and I don’t want to post spoilers.
There is a lot of building done in the novel both to the world and to the societies that populate it. It’s clear this intended to be a part of a series, and, unfortunately, this is where things start to fall behind a bit. There isn’t a lot to differentiate between the different places other than one or two significant places or customs. Otherwise, the different places feel repetitious and a bit tedious. As does some of the hints of what is to come. There is quite a bit left unresolved or answered in favor of preparing the reader for more, which is fine, but that part of the execution feels a bit on the heavy handed side.
On the whole, the book is a good introduction to James’ world and a fairly good take on a typical fantasy novel. There’s nothing super to separate it from other, similar, fare, but it’s also not bad which separates it from a lot of the stuff I find floating in the bin.
Overall ratings – 3.8 /5
Writing – 4/5
Characterization – 4/5
Setting – 3/5
Story – 3/5
Flow – 4/5
Value – 5/5 (At FREE), 3/5 (At Standard Listing)