Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review! | "The Betrayed" by Igor Ljubuncic

As is a usual occurrence lately, it's late and I've just realized I haven't posted my review for this week yet. So I'll try to be brief in my introduction. This week I'm reviewing the high/medieval fantasy "The Betrayed", the first book in the self published "Lost Words" series which I won in a Goodreads giveaway a few months ago.
The book's Goodreads description:
The Betrayed (The Lost Words, #1)In the ancient land of the Realms, where armies clash and heroes arise, only the most cunning and courageous can redeem a war torn land from certain annihilation. The Betrayed, Igor Ljubuncic's epic, gritty fantasy novel, spins a searing tale of a world in the throes of war. With furious, fast-paced action and fascinating characters, this wildly inventive saga will thrill anyone who demands fantasy at the top of its game.

A war is brewing in the Realms. When the new religious sect of Feor from Caytor invades the Safe Territories, the home of the old gods, Commander Mali of Eracia scrambles to counter its advance. To that end, Adam, an Eracian prostitute who awaits hanging, is spared to join the army. In the Territories, a former criminal Ayrton and his young protégée Ewan face the threat of the invaders. Can the ruthless followers of Feor be stopped, and the old faith be saved?

As nations clash, old rivalries are set aflame and nothing seems sacred, sinister and ancient secrets are revealed. With wit and adrenalin, The Betrayed weaves a taut and textured landscape of warring factions, foes and allies, to deliver a full-on fantasy tale for the ages.

I was a little conflicted after finishing this book, and here's why- I loved the idea: high fantasy, epic Game of Thrones/alternate medieval world settings- it sounded like such a fun read, and I look back on my reading fondly, however I also found myself skimming this book quite a bit. I don't know what happened, one moment I was reading, and while I was finding some things here and there that slowed the story for me- which I'll get into in a moment- I didn't feel the need to speed read through any of it. The next thing I know, I feel like it's taking ages for the paragraphs to go by. I don't know if it was the writing or me personally, but something wasn't meshing after a little while. Now, some of the things I noted, as always, go into a little too many details or are really nit-picking, so I'll stick to my main issues. 
The narration jumped a bit too much for my liking, some chapters were elaborated on different points of view which made the story stumble slightly, and there were so many perspectives in the whole story. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but when there are so many main characters and so many story lines, it becomes tricky to make everyone seem important, to make the reader care about everyone and want to keep track of it all, and I found myself not caring at all about some people, and caring less about others halfway through the book.On top of that, a lot of the character drama didn't really make me care about them any more and didn't make them seem more realistic to me.
I wish the world and its topography would have been explained a little more. Yes those details can be tedious and slow, but it really does help to picture what the universe of the characters is like and I found myself struggling a bit to come up with an idea that went along with the small map in the beginning of the book. 
There were some line edit issues, like the order in which details were arranged, some word and thought redundance, and some minor grammar details that you'll find in quite a few books. I found some phrases were repeated so many times throughout the story- meaning for them to be cemented themes, but coming across more as mildly annoying. 
The last thing- which ties into my issue with the world description- I would have loved for the fantastical elements of the book to have been more elaborate and a bigger presence in the story, rather than just being the idea that drives things. Having Gods as characters is brilliant, and I would have loved to see more from them. I have a feeling they're more present in the other books of the series, which is good news, but more from them sooner would have brought the story up so much, in my opinion. 

Again, it may seem like I am being harsh or that I didn't like the book. That's not at all true- I had far fewer notes for this book than I did for many others. I liked the book. It wasn't my favorite fantasy read, but I enjoyed it. I think if you like high fantasy, medieval-middle earth type stories, you'll find this entertaining. It's not the next big thing for the genre, but it's definitely a fun read if you're looking for a fantasy fix.

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