Read for the SPFBO, this is another of the titles I had to try whittle down from my original 30, trying to whittle them all down to a single title to put forward to the other judges.
We meet Coinin and Marrok, who are gifted brothers, who lose their parents quite young and go to live with their cruel uncle. Of the brothers, one is the brawn and one is the brain – able to manage certain magics such as planting other truths in someone’s mind, and taking over the mind of a horse. It transpires they are destined for great things, which is lucky as their world soon needs them.
Overall this book could do with some editing and some work on the characters to make them their own, rather than repeatedly telling us what their personality and atributes are. The dialogue is a little stilted which slowed the book down, and made it a little hard to connect with the characters as they all sound the same, and don’t really say much for themselves – it’s just fairly blunt back and forth grump.
The plot is its greatest strength – it’s interesting and pulls the characters (and reader) along, and you can’t quite tell what’s about to happen next. It feels diverse and realistic in that outward forces are attacking our characters, compared to some other books where it’s clear the plot is being tightly controlled by the author. This was fluid and easy to keep reading. (However, there are some plot holes and if you were to question certain areas it would fall a little short.) The battle scenes are generally sturdy and decent, and some nifty things are done with their powers.
I had to leave this book for a few days as the ending was slightly disappointing. Unfortunately, this challenge is to find the best fantasy novel (singular), and it really begs you to need to keep reading in order to be satisfied.