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

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Review: Shorefall

Shorefall Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the second book of The Founder's Trilogy that began with Foundryside ...
Previous Review of Foundryside.

I am not sure what happened here, but I found the first book to be incredibly interesting and fun while this follow up attempt to be decidedly less so. You still have the basic plot … it opens with a heist by our expanded team of main characters before the next big bad makes the scene and we ramp up to the exciting finale (despite several reviews complaining about a cliffhanger, technically it is a really crappy "to be continued" instead since the main conflict is resolved … perhaps it is a nuance without a difference for some). So where did this loos points? In the first book the world building was new and fantastic and carried much of the story … here it seemed like the world-building devolved into a hot mess … starting with the return of the undead hierophant who seems to be able to just do some magic without scriving (while at the same time being limited by plot armor called permissions, rights and privileges that work better in the IT world from which they came than here). That pretty much blew any plot discipline out the window as soon as he appeared with the only reason he didn’t crush our heroes being his apparent need to monologue (because all the kool villains do this). This ridiculousness is compounded through the introduction and abuse of the concept of twinning where this Vulcan mind meld seems to always get the plot rolling again when the author writes himself into a corner.

The pacing is deceptively slow … yes there is a race against the clock feel; however, this is interrupted by simplistic and convenient dialogue added to frequent exhibitions of extensive and repetitive details (info dumps) that was supplied as the main characters stand around talking about what to do next … I am sure this was an attempt to stretch out the forced feeling of suspense and anticipation … but it fails miserable. ["Now, unless anyone else wants to tell me his or her life story, can we shoot the big gun?" - Zurg] Too many words and not enough action make Jack a very bored boy. To make matters worse … whatever connection I had to protagonists from book one (1), it completely evaporated here … I just could not bring myself to care about any of the. Sancia spends a lot of time just being shocked and offended to the point of near paralysis … she just isn’t that interesting as the main PoV character without her interactions with Clef. Overall she was primarily the driver of the trainwreck of all the over the top emotional drama. Bearanice was completely flat where even the relationship between her and Sancia had no fire at all. Orsa was a grumpy old man that was only there to insert his collection of course vocabulary … speaking of which … if replacing only one curse word with some meaningless invented word while keeping the prolific use of all the other gorram curses (of which there were way too many instances to be effective at all) is just stupid. All or nothing please. Then there is Gregor … who was simply there for the big reveal at the end. Seriously I connected with none of them.

Crasedes was actually more interesting than I expected, if still a little creepy in the way he was always stalking Sancia. He loses points for being ridiculous overpowered and for the unneeded torture scenes (trigger warning are appropriate for this book), but I could almost understand his motivation to bring about his end goal of total human enslavement (almost) … especially after more of his mysterious past is revealed in several surprising plot twists. Unfortunately his reticence to actually explain anything that he was doing only served to keep him in the shadows as the main bogeyman (a bit of clumsy misdirection while the real antagonized works against both him AND our team of intrepid adventurers). Valeria, the artificial god limited only by her “programming," was also interesting … in a rogue AI trope in a sci-fi meme that we all know always ends badly. Go Team V. Ultimately the ending was a relief when it came … no I still need to figure out if I want to read the next installment (odds are decent as I still enjoy the world building).

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#Shorefall #TheFounders #NetGalley

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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.