Saturday, November 22, 2014

book review—Divine Summons by Rebecca P Minor

a bit disappointing

Things I liked:

The author does well at creating characters. Vinyanel, Veranna, and Majestrin are interesting characters, and the way they grate at each other and look after each other throughout the story is different than what is typical in these kinds of stories.

Things I didn't like:

The story felt rushed, and things happened that could have been better explained. For example, we learn early on that elves and dragons don't like each other, such that the dragon Majestrin does not at first accompany Vinyanel into the elven lands, but without any explanation the next time Vinyanel meets Majestrin is somewhere in elven lands, and little is made of it.

The way perspective was done was bothersome, too. Much of the book is from Vinyanel's first-person view, where Vinyanel is essentially telling the story, but there are times when the perspective changes characters, and then it goes to third-person.

And I was uncomfortable with how divine power is shown and used by the characters. For example, at one point Veranna says to Vinyanel "If there are to be any Miracles channeled on this mission, Young Windrider, they shall come through you." The idea of miracles being channeled through someone seems to be a pretty big departure from how God performed miracles in the Bible, and at least seems something more like how The Force is used in Star Wars. But God is not like The Force at all.

One part particularly irked me. Vinyanel finally has enough of Veranna's cryptic words and interferences, and tells her so. She's earned it, she's been a pain to him throughout the story, and his rebuke of her is sound, but for some reason he's treated like the one who did something wrong. I hardly see why Veranna, who's shown no small amount of pride at her position as some kind of prophetess, should not be subject to a well-earned rebuke when she needs it.


I recently read Beyond Price: a short story (The Windrider Canticles Book 1), a kind of prequel novella for this story, and thought it was pretty good, so I came to this story with some high expectations. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. To repeat something I wrote earlier in the review, the story felt rushed, almost as if there were some need to jump from one action scene to another without much info about life in between. I would have liked, for example, to see how Vinyanel honored and mourned for his comrades who died in the first part of the book, an escape from some enemies. I might even have liked to know more about why they were doing what they were doing at that time, and why it went bad and so many lost their lives. I would have liked to know more about what Veranna was trying to teach Vinyanel. I would have liked to see more of the normal lives of these characters. I would have liked to see more of Veranna's difficulties as a half-elf in an elven city, which are touched on once but only very briefly. After "Beyond Price", I would have liked to see how Veranna became the prophetess she is in this story, what her training was, and how she was even accepted, given her mixed heritage.

It's not an awful book, there was certainly enough to keep my interest as a reader, but I guess I was still hoping for more.

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