Friday, September 28, 2012

Book Review: Bound By Fire

This is a review from GoodReads

Tedious. Ronald Craft's Bound by Fire is tedious in every sense of the word. The structure is flawed, characters are lifeless, dialogue is atrocious, and the entire novel is in need of another edit. Reading should not feel painful.

It is unfair to state that BBF has no merits. Craft's world contains several imaginative elements. Skiimas, while not that inspired, are interesting. The Kelsa attack injected excitement when it arrived to plague the characters while out at sea. From time to time, the characters would act in a way that wasn't eye rolling.

In every other aspect BBF was sub-par. On one hand, the story wants to be realistic and brutal. Depictions of violence and torture are prevalent throughout. This clashes with the more fantastical elements; at times, feeling like a bad Dragon Ball Z or comic book story.  Characters act terrible the majority of the time. It's not a matter of being "relatable" or "unlikeable", they are simply written poorly. At no point do these characters feel alive in this world; more like they are just pushing the plot along. Karena, the deadly assassin, tells the protagonist, Ilian, plot with never a good explanation. Generally the reason will be stated in her thoughts as, "Why am I even telling him this? I don't know." which is the same thing running through my head. It really is telling about the book that things happen for no reason.

The worst offender of this was Kane, who literally sits all the characters down to deal out exposition early on in the book. Something that could have come more naturally in a series of events, rather than one big sit down. This is where many of the problems come in, the structure. Information is only given as something is happening. Very, very little is given to the reader beforehand. Things happen so quickly, they end up confusing.

The description of the book tells of 7 souls who will be on this journey. It took me until I was 85% finished to say with confidence who those souls were. I was nearly done, when the book started to make some sort of sense. Six of the seven characters are either static or have yawn inducing storylines. There is very little to no change between them in the entire book. The last character properly introduced is given a very interesting plot, but it simply stops, most likely for the next book.

What sums up Bound By Fire is the ending, which felt deliberately crafted. Unsatisfying with a feeling of incompleteness; the same things that trouble the entire book. Characters show up to die or just leave the story, emptying one’s bladder or stomach is overused, dialogue never feels natural, nothing makes sense, and everything is left in the air. Nothing felt accomplished, leaving a very cold impression. I cannot recommend this, especially given its length. The hours are better spent somewhere else.