I cannot tell you how sick to death I am of derivative epic fantasy novels. But I will. Why don’t people have original thoughts any more? Isn’t there something different you could do to your epic that doesn’t hearken back to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time or Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth (my most hated ever) series?
I often randomly choose fantasy series to read because I like to discover a good yarn. But these books don’t develop anything close to it.
[ADBLOCKHERE]The Lord of the Isles is over 600 pages that projects into so many confusing directions that half the time I was reading it I wondered what the hell was going on. It starts simply; a young shepherd named Garric discovers that he is the descendant of the once future king or some such, then he and his adopted sister, best friend and best friend’s sister start off on an adventure with the aid of a middle-aged warriorsort and an ancient female wizard.
They leave their island home in some gentle “hamlet” (it really is named Barca’s Hamlet) and all sorts of wondrous and terrible things occur to each one, including dealing with demons, the undead, cannibals and a tree that takes over the soul of one of them. I think. Honestly, I don’t even know. How is it possible that I could have read this tome and come away so utterly clueless?
The writing itself is basically dull. But an even-handed kind of dull. Drake isn’t an especially gifted raconteur and he repeats himself frequently though his writing is much better than books in the Forgotten Realms library (except for anything by R.A. Salvatore) or other pulp-fiction fantasy series.
Still the epic is so slow to get off the ground that it seems a ponderous undertaking. I wonder where his ideas come from. At one point (for half the book) he has half of the major characters adrift at sea in various occasions, which is extremely plodding, and he seems to make up things to happen to them as padding, as if he can’t have them getting to a location too soon.
This stuff is hardly page-turning material. I found myself falling asleep more than once during the three days it took to force myself to finish it. Nothing compelled me to move on in the story except that I wanted it to end.
I have the next four books (I don’t even know if there is more than that) in the series and I don’t know if I am going to read them or return them.
I don’t like any of the characters. None of them have stand-out development. They are all so much like characters from other books that are frankly done much better. Even the characters in Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series are more compelling and I never despised any characters in a book as much. In Lord of the Isles I would have gladly despised a character rather than feel completely and totally nothing about any of them.
I understand that Drake has a military background and he writes like it. Nothing original, nothing emotional or particularly moving and he hasn’t the vaguest idea how to craft a female character except to make them all somewhat masculine interspersed with fits of jealousy and crying. Great. Women I want to be just like.
The men aren’t any better, just cardboard cut-outs of the epic hero and his friend and the dedicated gentle but tough warrior guy and various evil baddies who all seem to meet with hasty deaths when Drake has no idea what to do with them.
Also the names of the characters really bugged me. I don’t mind fantasy names too much, I prefer them not to be overly long and difficult to pronounce but some of these names just seemed so fake. Much like his own name; David Drake. Feh. I hate pen names. I also don’t think anyone should be named Nonnus, especially not the wise elder guide of the entire story. What a wretched name. How could he possibly think this was a good name for a wise warrior? Seriously it sounds like “No Nuts”. Ewwww.
No wonder I had never heard of this lengthy series before; it’s just bogged down rehashing fantasy detritus.