Sunday, 22 April 2012

Didn’t Finish It… ‘Thief’s Covenant’ – Ari Marmell (Pyr)

The plan is that you won’t be seeing so many of these posts in the future; well, hopefully… The impending daily commute means that I’ll more than likely be forced to finish whatever comes to work with me for the day (which isn’t a bad thing) instead of just going to the bookshelf to find something more appealing. A book is going to have to be truly awful to make me put it down and share a train with early morning commuters! I’ll guess we'll just have to see how that one goes.

In the meantime… Certain books don’t seem to work for me, for a number of reasons, and I want the blog to reflect that a little bit more. A book may be badly written, it might just be the wrong book at the wrong time. Or it might be a book like Ari Marmell’s ‘Thief’s Covenant’. Here’s the blurb…

Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city's aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It's not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it's hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon's political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she's built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don't finish the job first.

I was really looking forward to reading ‘Thief’s Covenant’. Not only did a number of other bloggers (that I read reguarly) enjoy it but I’d already enjoyed Marmell’s ‘The Conqueror’s Shadow’ and ‘The Warlord’s Legacy’ and planned to read more of his stuff. I’ll probably still do that but the anticipation will now be tempered somewhat.

The big problem for me was that after a hundred and eight pages, of a two hundred and seventy two page book, nothing actually seemed to be happening. It was all about the build up and I couldn’t help but think that Marmell was running out of time to stop building up and start doing something.
This approach wouldn’t have been too bad but there wasn’t a lot about the lead character, Widdershins, to get me interested in her story let alone keep reading it. There was no spark that would have made Widdershins stand out in her own right; if I’d dropped her in a room full of teenage thieves (from fantasy novels) then I don’t think I would have ever been able to tell her apart from all the others…

So, a book where nothing seemed to be happening with a dull lead character… Never a good combination for me and, despite my best attempts, not a book that I’ll be continuing with. Pyr have a very nice line in fantasy fiction but I guess there always has to be an exception to prove the rule…


Jessica Strider said...

Interesting. I'm currently having the same problem with Elspeth Cooper's Songs of the Earth. It started off plot driven, then turned character driven, with nothing of import happening in the last hundred or so pages (I'm at page 237). I've been trying to force myself to finish, but I don't think I will. Too many other books waiting for me to get to them.

I was looking forward to Thief's Covenant, but it sounds like I wouldn't finish that one either. Guess I'll give it a miss then. Thanks.

Spaz said...

Any thoughts on the fact that it's a Young Adult novel? Did you know this going in? Does it even matter?