I started out reading The White Tree (Cycle of Arawn #1) a week or so ago and just couldn’t get into it, mostly because of the younger age and nature of the main character. I heard there was a trilogy that can be read by itself which is set in a time where this character is older. I was hoping that the character would be more to my taste in the Cycle of Galand trilogy and I was right.
Dante and Blays are a duo not unlike Jean and Locke or Royce and Hadrian. They have a lot of sarcastic back and forth banter, and one tends to have a stronger conscience than the other. They make for a good pair and foil to one another.
Dante gets word from his father that he needs his help. Dante and his father have been estranged for a number of years. One day his father sailed off to go and find his mother and never came back (we get a lot more to that backstory in this one). There are a couple problems with the request for help. One is that his current residence is on The Plagued Islands, so aptly named because it’s believed anyone go goes there comes back with a disease with a 100% fatality rate. It takes a long time to find a captain willing to go there, and getting there was only the very beginning of their troubles.
The island they sail to has a culture that has a multitude of words for different kinds of lies. It’s one of the more unique cultures I’ve encountered in a while. It’s extremely difficult to navigate a culture built around half-truths, dislikes strangers, and is insular and isolated from the rest of the world.
I feel like this felt a little serial, with each obstacle neatly conquered to move onto the next problem and so on. It did, however, move at a fairly quick pace, I got through this in just a couple days on audio. Which is voiced by the ever-lovely Tim Gerard Reynolds!
I didn’t ever totally warm to the characters. I found them entertaining, to a point. The banter didn’t always work for me and sometimes it got to be a little much. I do think that’s really subjective though. It’s not something I would take points off for in “writing”, it would come out in ‘personal enjoyment’. I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t totally connect with Dante as a character, perhaps the third person writing style was a bit too distant? It’s difficult to put into words, but I felt like at times he was too close to other characters I’ve read before and not enough to make him stand out on his own. That said, I liked grown-up Dante much more than younger Dante, it’s not as if I dislike the character, which is an improvement from The White Tree.
TLDR: A duo reminiscent of Locke and Jean bro-mance, laden with sarcastic banter. Lots of magic. Audiobook by TGR. Plagues. Island nations. Fast paced and fun.
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 12.5/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
- Originality: 10/15
Final Score: 75.5/100 or 3.5/5 on GR