I don’t remember ever being this frustrated with a book. This, for me, had loads of potential. The idea behind it was quite interesting. The world was interesting. The scenery was interesting. The horse, Smoke, was interesting. But the characters were entirely too flat for me.
In the beginning of the book, I was hit with a few typos and the occasional switch from past to present tense. Combined with the flat character, I almost put it down, but I was interested to learn more of the world, so I stuck with it. I reluctantly admit I skimmed towards the middle of the book and up to the end, so I can’t say with certainty if the typos and issues with tenses lessoned. The sheer number of similes really bogged it down as well. Sure, a couple are needed, but these seemed rather long and slowed down my reading.
Another hang up I had was the amount of detail Ravenkamp went into when describing spells. This is purely personal taste. I like to understand magic and spells, but this took it to another level. Some might find it intriguing but, for me, I ended up skipping pages.
Our main protagonist, Zanfidion, is uprooted from his home of 24 years and forced to flee. That’s how it starts. Yet, we don’t learn anything from Zanfidion except his dislike of violence. We don’t get a good feel for his emotions at having his life uprooted, and throughout, I never felt it was addressed. It’s what made him flat to me. With all that happened, he just seemed to float through everything. Toward the end, we started to see some expected emotion, but it was too late for me to be invested.
On another sad note, our main protagonist has a connection with animals, yet it’s not really explored in detail. He gets an incredibly interesting horse, but we’re told they have a bond, then that’s where the fun ends. I would have liked a bit more development. As I’ve said before, I love it when a book involves animals, but this felt like an afterthought.
Now, what was incredibly fun to read about was the Gray. Basically, each child born is claimed by one of two gods (one rules the day, one rules the night) and forced into their respective god’s service. However, those born in the “gray,” are torn between the two gods, each god vying for the person. It makes the person go mad at an early age. It also turns them into a crazy rampaging murderer. He/she can level towns without being aware of what their doing. They just want to kill. Their power is nearly unstoppable. I thoroughly enjoyed this idea, and while the execution lacked, the story itself kept pulling me along. If only Zanfidion had been more developed and a few questions I had answered, it would have been incredible.
So in conclusion, I really wish I liked this more. The story idea was amazing, the characters underdeveloped, and the world intriguing.