My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Review: The Crown Conspiracy

The Crown Conspiracy The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book comes across as a highly formulaic effort for a basic fantasy story. If you have been around the block once or twice, you will recognized much of it. As one book club reader put it ...

Chris wrote: "When I read it, I thought of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser"

To which I would readily agree. Two altruistic thieves (it is fantasy after all); a big hulk of a fighter/swordsman complimented by a small, wiry side-kick. The former an unstoppable combatant juxtaposed against the talented shadow (and true thief of the pair). The word play between these two protagonists is really what made the book for me … and what initially drew me into the story to begin with (I read the free online excerpts). The rest was fairly predictable … at least I though it was. I was interested enough in the story to buy the sequel for the kindle and stormed through that as well (much better story actually) where I discovered that the author had really used a lot of the predictable storyline to hide a few twists of his own that were also quite fun (like an ancient wizard who is either an infamous evil or great champion (all we really know is that our heroes needed his help) … we find at a bit more about this in Avempartha. This also sets up an imperial church as a potential bad guy (without trying to hide any moral judgment about what is clearly modeled off the roman catholic church … everybody‘s favorite whipping boy these days). There were also a few unique fantasy concepts here that I found very interesting.

The story lost points in two places … for the most part, the author does a good job of not over-explaining things that happen in the story; however, the addition to the party of a monk with a photographic memory with the better part of the history of the world in his head was an obvious device for info-dumps; to which the author was not completely immune. Although the character was somewhat endearing (if fairly sappy), I would have liked to seen a bit more skill weaving that information into the story and perhaps having the other characters discover/reveal smaller pieces. Finally the ending was less then satisfying for me … it seemed to rush through a good portion of climax and did not appear to be as well thought out as the rest of the story (perhaps my inner engineer just could not suspend enough disbelief to buy into the whole tower scene). Still … this was a most excellent debut (I am already waiting to get book 3 of 6 in the series … it doesn’t get much better then that :-)

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.