I read this book, and a couple other clangers, in preparation for an interview. I think it was with Joshua’s uncle, Kevin, on his internet radio show. I look back with amazement that any published book could be this bad.
Sometimes when adults write about teenagers, they come off as space aliens trying to write about human beings without having the slightest understanding of humanity, they might as well be writing about catfish. A book like this is an insult to every poor devil who ever tried and failed to get published. A monkey could write a better one, if you gave him a keyboard.
You owe it to yourself to give this book a wide berth.
The Know-It-All Elf and The Invincible Female Warrior–what would certain writers do for characters, if they didn’t have these worn-out cliches to fall back on?
Then there’s crazy dialogue. There’s only one thing worse than long passages of speech written in what the author images to be dialect. That’s long passages of speech in which the author wanders in and out of dialect.
The mystery of it all! We wouldn’t know these cliches for cliches if they weren’t crammed into books that actually got published–thousands of ’em.
I don’t know that characters in fantasy novels have names that are any harder to believe in than the names of college presidents. Clostridia Whittington Farnsworthy–names like that. Don’t tell me “Aragorn” or “Corsus” is worse than that.
I am forced to admit that great steaming chunks of fantasy fiction are totally worthless. I don’t care so much about the names. It’s the stead downpour of cliches that puts me off.
I love good fantasy; but there’s enough truly rotten fantasy published every year to line the whole world’s bird cages several times over.
Not that it’s anywhere near the only thing that bad fantasy gets wrong, but it is perhaps the most annoying thing: its treatment of women. If a female character in a stupid fantasy is not The Invincible Female Warrior, you can be sure she’s in for a hard time.
This guy wrote great movie reviews, and fascinating appendices; but his retelling of Genesis turned it into a cliche-packed summer movie script. “Disappointing” is hardly the word for it. “Bowel-wrenchingly awful” is barely adequate for descriptive purposes.
At least it wasn’t as hard as reviewing a book written by a friend.
It’s bad enough, you populate your fantasy with stock characters whose every action and reaction is totally predictable. Bad enough you name your lead characters after popular pain reliever products. But to do both at once is to create something monumentally bad.
I find it hard to get my books reviewed because so many potential reviewers and interviewers say, “But that’s just fantasy.” Like it’s all verbal cliches and stupid unbelievable characters named Feen-a-Mint or Tylenol.
Fantasy is a powerful tool for communicating the intangible, especially to children. As a fantasy writer myself, using fantasy to serve an evil purpose is something that makes me quite truly angry. But it should always make you mad to see something good twisted into bad.
Sometimes I’m afraid it’s just me, and everybody else is just crazy about buxom tavern wenches, invincible female warriors, know-it-all elves, all-powerful wizards, and bad guys who always win. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so much of it in fantasy. (Yeah, Game of Thrones, I’m talking about you.)
I will not reveal the name of this fantasy novel, because the author is really quite a nice guy; but it remains the gold standard for how to annihilate fantasy. It does this in just a single line of dialogue. The dwarf turns to the elf and says, “We must learn to value other lifestyles.”
So you’ve got an already-successful Christian author with a large fan base, writing in a popular genre with a wide readership, and a major publisher to produce and market the book–golden opportunity, right? An opportunity to win ground in the culture for Christ’s Kingdom.
Wrong. Instead, all these resources came together to make, well, a bunch of nothing.
T. Davis Bunn had all this going for him when he set out to write his first fantasy novel, Emissary, three years ago. So he decided to write a “completely mainstream, totally secular” fantasy novel–that is, he cobbled together a thorough collection of fantasy cliches: and the big huge Christian publisher, Zondervan, published it.