25 May, 2011

Review - Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury

I had such high hopes for this one. Thrall [US] [UK] has a great cover and a great premise, what's not to love? I highly enjoyed David Gemmell's Legend - also dealing with an aged hero - and I really didn't think I could go wrong.

Sadly, something went wrong.

Here's a quote I made on Goodreads when I was almost done:
"Can't say I'm enjoying this too much. Even though I realize it's character-driven, there's still not enough worldbuilding. Awkward wording left and right, like, "Kayla returned to her work, but this time, her pale fingers shook. For some reason, she couldn't stop this action." I wanted to like this so much, great ideas, but poor execution."

I commented that there's not enough world-building and that may not even be saying enough. I knew going into this somewhat short book (under 300 pages in trade paperback) that it was heroic fiction, so I already wasn't expecting a lot in terms of the world and instead a focus on the characters.

The focus was almost completely on the characters, but even going so far as to not even set up a scene. Sometimes the characters would be discussing their next move or explaining some type of history and without any set up of the world around them, it seemed to me they were taking a break in the middle of nowhere to just "talk this out".

This resulted in a somewhat awkward pace, if only the author had set the scene a bit more, it wouldn't sound like info-dumping.

Then there was the awkward phrasing as mentioned in my Goodreads quote. The oddest phrases and descriptions were given left and right. From above: "...for some reason she couldn't stop this action". There were many instances of this type of word usage. It wasn't that it didn't make sense, it was just not a great description.

I didn't hate Thrall, I enjoyed the aged warrior, Gorias La Gaul, but then again he wasn't easy to like immediately. He goes about killing almost haphazardly, especially at first and there's no real motive behind it except that he's this big tough hero that can't be stopped even in his old age.

I can't say I'd recommend Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury, but I'm also the type that likes a lot of detail - i.e. John Marco, Susanna Clarke, etc. If it sounds good to you and you don't mind this lack of detail, you'll probably enjoy this...at least more than I did.

2 out of 5 Stars (Just OK)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Anonymous said...

I really had a hard time with this one as well. I found the world building to be lack in. It was oddly paced and the characters were hard to believe. Oh well. Can't win them all.

Bryce L. said...

I really did want to like it, but it kept letting me down. :)

Anonymous said...

I've started and stopped this one quite a few times.

Bryce L. said...

Can't say I'd recommend you keep going, there's just too much better out there. If you want an older protagonist, just read Legend by Gemmell.