Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
First off, the blurb is disgraceful. Not only does it lie about what happens in the book, it gives away the ending. Luckily, the book is so dull no one's going to care about that. It's a shame, I would have liked to read the book the blurb described. Perhaps someone else will write it someday.
Writing: It's boring. Not bad, exactly, but oh so very plodding. It didn't hold my interest at all. There were a few lines that showed a spark of talent, but for the most part I just wanted it to be over. A lot more editing might have solved this, or maybe it was hopeless. Either way, my main reaction was extreme boredom and counting pages until the end.
The multiple POVs are... odd. The story switches around POV, which is fine, except it doesn't do so with any purpose. The beginning of the book turns out not to matter at all, and even in the second half many of the POVs don't seem to do anything for the story. I don't know why Gawaine is a main character at all- he doesn't do anything and his plotline just fades into obscurity.
Plot: Nothing like what the blurb said it would be, which really irritates me. It's purposely misleading. If the book isn't interesting enough to sell, don't sell it. Lying is not the solution.
I'm not really sure what this book is about, honestly. Arthur consolidating the kingdom? Doesn't really happen, honestly. Morgause being defeated? She never posed a real threat, and she's easily gotten rid of. The author started several plots- Gawaine not wanting to be king, Gawaine rebelling against his mother, Arthur learning to be a good king, Gawen finding out the truth... but they all just sort of go away instead of anything happening. If anything is resolved it's in a casual "and then this happened" fashion. Honestly, I feel like this book is more intended for people who know a lot about the Arthur story to fit all the rest of the pieces together- the author seems to think that it being a well-known story means that she can only retell a tiny, inconsequential piece of it and we'll just cobble together an actual story ourselves.
Characters: Arthur had occasional sparks of personality, but no one else did. Gawaine was annoying in his arrogance. His brothers might have been interesting, but we don't know much about them (the twins... argh. TWINS ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON. Everyone got that? Honestly, it brought back so many memories of being introduced as "one half of the twins". Ugh.) Gawen was so very dull, and while I hadn't bothered to pay enough attention to the book to anticipate the twist it also wasn't surprising or done well. I don't really feel like naming the rest of the characters, because they're all just boring plot devices. None of them matter or are likable, and they have as much depth as your average piece of paper.
So... yeah. Terrible book, misleading blurb. I wish I'd just given up ten pages in. Go read Gerald Morris' books instead; it's a much better use of your time.
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