Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kiriath’s Quest

I felt bad about missing last week’s book review, so here’s an extra review this week…

Title: Kiriath’s Quest

Series: Stand-alone novel

Author: Rick Barry

Genre: Teen (13-16 yrs) Fantasy

Excerpt from “Ambush,” Chapter 1 of Kiriath’s Quest:

Lifting his eyes from the cobblestone roadway, Prince Kiriath admired the glinting walls and spires of Shiralla, situated on a broad shoulder of the mountain high above.

He called to Jekoniah, who rode the steed beside him. “Father, look. See how the morning sunshine—”

A loud
chink, as of something beating metal, split the morning air. In that same instant, the prince felt something strike beneath his cloak.

King Jekoniah immediately looked at his son with alert, questioning eyes. “What was that sound?”

“Something struck my breastplate, here under my cloak!” Kiriath circled his horse to scan the ground, then pointed to the roadside. There lay a slender shaft with a crudely chipped arrowhead bound to its tip. “A black arrow.”

“Grishnaki!” Jekoniah muttered in disbelief, his eyes straining to pierce the underbrush.

Another arrow split the air between them.

“To Shiralla, Kiriath. Quickly!”

A prince sets out on a dangerous mission to rescue his father and the kingdom.

The Craft: The writing of Kiriath’s Quest was not what a reader hopes for in a story. Stiff, awkward—while I hate to criticize any book, there is very little in the craft for me to commend.

The premise is less than sterling—a pretty typical epic-journey fantasy. Nothing sparks the imagination or tickles the fancy or makes the reader go, “Oooh. That’s intriguing.”

Likewise, the plot is predictable. The few things that do surprise often come from a failure to set up a situation properly. For example, the unexpected knowledge the princess possesses about flying serpents. These sudden revelations make it appear such knowledge was added spur-of-the-moment to make an escape from the impossible plausible.

The dialogue sounds awkward, loaded down by information dumps, as-you-know sequences (characters talking about something they both know so the reader might be informed), and on-the-spot explanations.

The prose lacks flow and poetry. Too many explanations for the fantasy elements drain the wonder from the story. The character arcs fail to go much of anywhere.

There were a few spots of good humor, the world created is fairly complex, and some points carry good tension. Nonetheless, the story felt stiff and forced.

The Content: If the writing of Kiriath’s Quest was stiff, the content was flat. No astounding insights. No unexpected twists on the normal. Nothing that made me pull back and say, “I’ve never seen/thought about it that way.” The few themes I can pick out—the bond of family, the need for one another, risking life for others—lacked the vibrancy and power to inspire, teach, or edify.

As for topics of concern, the book is clean. Violence is kept to a minimum, and Mr. Barry goes to great lengths to explain that the fantastical elements are somehow scientifically based and therefore not occult-related in any way.

Summary: Kiriath’s Quest is as safe as fantasy reading gets. In fact, it has been made so palatable, that it has been blanched of all color and flavor. So unless you are desperate for reading material or wish to introduce fantasy to an overcautious Christian, you will probably want to bypass Kiriath’s Quest.

Rating: Writing—1, Content—3, Overall—2.5

Still interested? Order Kiriath's Quest here.

1 comment:

Brandon Barr said...

A good honest review as as always!