The third and concluding volume of Joseph Charles Sisk’s Chronicles of the Vanquished trilogy (after The Crystal of Light and The Tablet of Dreams) revolves around a fairy prince and princess (JÃ©ddah and Eris) about to be married and the chaos that follows once a pirate (Mascar) kidnaps the princess to forcibly help him find an artifact that holds the secrets of immortality.
The premise has potential to be a whimsical fairy tale. However, in this case, it is not to be. A narrative replete with elementary writing mistakes makes this a challenging reading experience.
Point of view problems abound. In some chapters written in first-person (through the eyes of JÃ©ddah), the narrator recounts scenes in detail in which she was clearly not present, and in some third-person sequences, the narration inexplicably switches to first-person. Continuity issues add to the confusion. One sequence, in which it is clearly “the middle of the night,” segues into a scene where the sun is low in the sky. And although the pirate Mascar is described as having a black patch over one eye, he is later portrayed in a scene as having crimson “eyes.”
But the real problem is the cast of cardboard characters, which are little more than uninspired stereotypes (pirate, witch, princess, etc.) and the conspicuous lack of realm building. Reading — and writing — fantasy is all about experiencing a sense of wonder: immersing oneself a richly imagined and meticulously detailed realm. There is virtually no focus on description in this novel; the author offers only superficial details, such as the color of a character’s eyes or the shade of a dress, etc.
In sum, a cast of one-dimensional characters, a disjointed storyline, a confused narrative, and a lack of world building conspire to make this novel a difficult read.
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