Chronicles of the Vanquished: The Gold of Youth

Joseph Charles Sisk

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 297 Price: (paperback) $19.99 ISBN: 9781469187082 Reviewed: August, 2012 Author Website: Visit »

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 (Jéddah 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 Jéddah), 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.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Wilmington, North Carolina
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