Subtlety is an important thing in a novel. It allows the reader to at least think he or she has figured something out, like a mystery or important plot point. It allows for concepts to sink in gradually and become convincing to the reader.
Subtlety is not a concept this novel is remotely familiar with.
RuneScape: Betrayal at Falador [US] [UK] is based on the most popular free MMORPG (Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game), RuneScape, which, as is becoming a redundant theme around here, I have never before played in my life.
According to the back of the book:
In the kingdom of Asgarnia, though the Knights of Falador defend the land a protect the people, they face threats that clamor from all sides-and from within. Enemies mass at borders, and a killer stalks the night killing innocents and slipping away unseen.In a very cliche version of epic fantasy, Betrayal at Falador ("Betrayal"), has all your necessary components. There's the good guys, the squire and the knights, plus the dwarfs, the wizards, the druids, etc. And then there's the bad guys, the ones from out of town who want to rule over everyone in sight...for no apparent reason than having power, the werewolves, the goblins, and even the chaos dwarfs (opposite of good guy dwarfs).
When a young woman appears in the teeth of the storm, her sudden arrival launches a chain of events that endangers the very fabric of magic. And unless the knights can solve the riddle of Kara-Meir, everything they hold close may be lost.
Their one hope may lie in the hands, not of a knight, but of an untested squire named Theodore...
The bad guys want to conquer, the good guys want to prevent this, there's also a mystery of a possible traitor among the good guys...but that's what we get. Under impossible situation after impossible situation, I'm sure you can imagine who takes the cake at the end of the day.
Now, I'm sure I would have enjoyed this book more if I had actually played the game, but at the same time, I'm also quite sure that that amount would only be a pittance.
As I mentioned above, Betrayal is not a subtle novel. It kind of slaps you across the face with foreshadowing, almost SHOUTING at you that something is about to happen. Then, unsurprisingly, that event happens and it's really not all that great.
Maybe I've been involved in the legal profession too long already, but one of an author's main responsibilities is to convince the reader that a certain action taken by a character or a certain event is not only entirely plausible in the world that's been created, but that it's also perfectly rational. I want to be convinced that under the systems set up by this world, that it was a reasonable choice that a character made or that by some type of magic something was able to happen. This suspension of disbelief has to happen or I will remain unconvinced and you've lost me as a reader.
As you can imagine, this factor was not apparent in Betrayal. There were far too many moments in my reading experience where I thought, if only the author had just said, "and a spell came over them" to make the events happen in a certain way. That's all I needed and it would have been fine, and yet that never occurred.
The characters likewise lack a certain kind of subtlety. They are bland and boring and ... pretty much all the same. The lead character, Theodore, is considered a brown-noser at the beginning of the story and the problem is, who likes a brown-noser? Are we supposed to relate to that and feel bad for him that no one likes him? In law school, we call those people gunners and no one likes them. No one.
Why Read RuneScape: Betrayal at Falador?
I'm positive that if I read Betrayal when I was around 10-13 years old, I would have loved it. Characters from all walks of life band together to defeat the bad guy, yadda yadda yadda, but now it's just too obvious, too cheesy and over-the-top, and just plain poorly done.
2 out of 5 Stars (I'm probably being too generous)
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher