#2 Awakened

Main Characters:

Claire – an adopted young lady.  She was sent into the forest by her mother when her town of Stockton was attacked by Centuars.  Her  mother disappeared that night, so did all signs of the other townspeople.  She was rescued by some Elves.  She also has some sort of magical mark on her hand that is growing up her arm.

Farron – one of the Elves.  Unknown age but seems to suggest he is very old even though he must not look it .  He has fallen for Claire.  He is the half-brother of his King; he was born to his father’s mistress so he doesn’t officially “exist” in his kingdom.  He is nicknames the Silver Dog – he in the past went on missions which had him to some not so honorable things.

Bren – the evil General who tried to hurt Claire in the last book.

NEW CHARACTERS:

Razi – a Sali (a tribe from his nation).  Like Claire – with a mark and can use magic.

Lianna – the girl from Farron’s past.  She is also mistress to Farron’s half-brother (a King).  She like Razi have the same mark as Claire and can use magic.  She is fierce and has significant power.

King Liadan – Farron’s half brother and King o fthe land where Claire is taken.  He wants the best for his people and land even if he has to go about getting it in an awful way.

Lord Hyndor – one of the council members.

Location: some fictional land with places called Lendon,  Rodem, Stockton and Sanre Du Lore.  But most of the book takes place in Farron’s kingdom, Derenan.

Main Premise: Claire and Farron are on the run when Lianna shows up and steals Claire taking her to Farron’s kingdom.  Apparently this Elf King is collecting the people with magic so that he can try to figure out a way to get the magic back into the land to save the land.  Claire is told she really doesn’t have a choice but to stay.  Farron comes after her.  Razi tries to get Claire to figure out how to access her magic (by delving into her brain).  But it seems to corrupt her magic somehow (and there is something to do with the scar through her mark that she now has because of Bren too).  Claire and Farron end up in a relationship – Farron falls in love with her.  And Claire, it seems falls for Farron too even through she’s too bi-polar to admit it.  She just whines all the time and is sleeping with him but denying she even like him.  Then the King comes to her and asks her to break up with Farron – because the King cares for him (yeah, that makes sense, crush the lad because you care for him?) – and she can’t tell Farron why.  Then Claire figures out that the King is aware that the Council (which is different than the syndicate even though they are both made up of evil power hungry cranky old men) is the one using the centaurs to route out the magic wielders (there are apparently 7 of them, called “star children” – YIKES, Jessica Sorensten’s no so wonderful Shattered series is haunting me) and the King did nothing to stop them.  So, Claire, in her state of absolute stupidity which is totally normal for her, proposes that the King give her 3 months to find the others.  How?  Who knows and cares at this point.  She hasn’t learned anything about her magic or how to use it, but sure, let’s go with that thought that she can find the others….  She goes before the council to convince them to stop the attacks temporarily and let her try to find the others.

How it ended: In order to get the council to agree Farron has to pledge himself to them.  And I think Claire does too.  But I am not sure.  Claire is given the three months to find the others of her kind.  In the meeting with the council a few things happen: the council basically attacks her to see  her mark; the King suggests she might be dying; she admits she doesn’t know if 3 months is enough time; Farron offers to be sent with her because he already found 2; and the King gets really pissed that Farron ends up in the missile of this.  Claire still has no idea how to use her powers (although she has the necklace Lianna made which should help in some twisted weird way that I didn’t fully understand).  She decides she is first going to try to find her mother because she got a clue from a syndicate member who was being held in the King’s dungeon (and who attacked and tried to kidnap her) about her mother being held where the blue gill fish come from.  Farron told her were he thinks that is – Linesbrough where the fisherman’s guild is located.  Farron has taken the oath to serve the council.  Bren is as evil as ever.  Claire tried to run away before Farron could join her, to go look for her mother but Farron stops her.  He mentions that there will be a ceremony, a formal resignation of his soul, and that Claire will have to give her word to the King and council as well.  She ends up swearing service and loyalty to both King and Council of Twelve Kingdoms and to fulfill her task at all costs.  The Council is thrilled to have tamed the Silver Dog (in their opinion).  There is a penalty for breaking the oath, but we don’t learn what.  And she and Farron are off with a band of men. She thinks that she will stop the attacks and will get Farron out of things.

Other Important Things to Remember for Later: The syndicate’s name is the Ophiuchus Syndicate.

Lianna made Claire a talisman of sorts to try to help channel Claire’s powers.  But Claire’s powers have turned disturbing – there is something wrong with them.

The star children were possibly all stolen from their real parents.

Razi, Lianna and Claire are the only people who can use magic without the aid of an amulet.  They are typically “awakened” and that often happens in times of stress.

While the King wants to use the star children and their magic, he doesn’t know how.  There are scrolls that have told him about the children and they have lead him to believe there are 7 of them.  The syndicate has 2, Claire, Razi and Lianna make 5.  Leaving 2 to find.  Lianna can sense them but only after they have awakened.

Claire picked up some sort of rock out of the library that seems to help calm her.  It is “old Vatrian” – the first men who originally discovered magic.  There is an inscription in that language that no one in the palace can read.  Here’s an example.  Claire and Lianna are talking.  Claire just responded to a question of Lianna’s in a paragraph.  Then, new paragraph which states:  “Something changed in her demeanor, softening up.  Maybe she had expected something else, a different reason for her visit.  She could hardly blame her.”  Then, new paragraph.  Who is thinking this, which of the ladies is expecting anything?  It is so confusing.  This is a combination of poor writing and even poorer editing.  A good editor would have noticed this and required that it be fixed!  Virtually every time there are characters of the same persuasion in the room and part of the conversation, this happens.  It was so difficult sometimes to figure out who was saying or thinking what.

Bren came because his kingdom (Lendon, lead by King Philip) wanted a treaty with Derenan.  Lendon has doubled in size.  He is determined to make Claire his.

Review:

The title is Awakened but it should be Slept.  Why?  Because a dreamless sleep is more exciting, less tedious and boring, and makes more sense.  This is, as a friend of mine might say, a “hot mess”.

The writing did not improve.  I was really hoping that after getting one book under her belt the author would find a voice that wasn’t one that made me want to poke my eyes out with a hot ice pick.  But, nope.  No such luck.

So we pick up where Cursed left off.  And progress, really no where.  The story makes no real progress throughout the book.  We learn a very few tidbits of information about those who can use magic.  But that’s pretty much it.  I could have gotten more from a 20 page short story.

I hate the author’s use of made up language and words and phrases that are never explained.  Failure to provide enough contextual details make it impossible to figure out what some of them might mean.  It’s hifaling.  See?    I could have meant “it’s annoying” or “it’s frustrating” or “it’s lazy” or even “it’s deplorable” – each having it’s own meaning and you can’t tell what I might really mean.  In this case, I meant all of the above.  So maybe that’s a new word for me.

And I am not sure if which I hate more, the made up and unexplained/untranslated language or the author’s use of pronouns.  This is one of the biggest and most glaring issues with this book (and the first installment).   The author doesn’t distinguish between characters very well.  Here’s an example.  We have Claire and Lianna, two female characters, discussing something.  Claire answers a question of Lianna’s in one paragraph.  Then in the next paragraph: “Something changed in her demeanor, softening up.  Maybe she had expected something else, a different reason for her visit.  She could hardly blame her.”  New Paragraph.  Which character had expectations?  Who’s demeanor changed?  There are instances of this everywhere.  Any time there are characters of the same persuasion in the same room it the text is difficult to track.  I don’t know which “her” “she” is referring to.  I felt like I was reading Abbot & Costello.  Better writing would fix this.  Decent editing would have caught this and required it to be fixed.

The inconsistency of character dialogue is also tough to take.  “Yeah” and “I shall not” are thrown together without a though.  Some of the conclusions and jumps are ludicrous.  Seeing a “hint of black material…from under one of the men’s shirt” is enough to know that the man is with the syndicate.  What, no one else ever wears black?  Claire is no smarter, in fact not only is she as ignorant as ever but she seems to have such wild mood swings and changes in opinion it could give a reader whiplash.  She makes Bill & Ted look like rocket scientists.  She is really hard to like and since the book is really told from her perspective and about her, it is even harder to read.

I commented in the review of the first book that the title of the book and the series is confusing.  Here, we get “Awakened”.  And since Claire was actually awakened in the first book and we really don’t see much of Claire’s powers here (two blue fireballs and the inability to use them again isn’t exactly getting good use of her powers).  The other two folks with abilities already have it.  And we don’t meet anyone else who gets awakened.  So, what exactly is the title referring to?  I have no idea.

Then there is the plot.  Or lack thereof.  We know just as little as we did when we started.  Even the reveal of “child star” with no other information wasn’t helpful and didn’t move the story (although using it as that exact phrase conjured images of various “child stars” including one of the most famous, Shirley Temple).  If this is a love story at heart, then Claire needs to stop being such a bitch about Farron (although other words also come to mind because of her propensity to sleep with him but then claim she doesn’t even like him).  If this is more about the magic and the world building, then the author needs to take a few lessons on how to do this well and effectively before giving the world installment #3.  And then she needs to catch up.  Can’t believe I am suggesting this, but maybe if the author could figure this out, then she could give us a few e-book half installments to correct the failings of the first two books so far.  Otherwise, I am prepared for very little action and lots of boredom when faced with #3.

I usually don’t care about the “rating” of the things I read.  Here, I admit to being bothered a little by the amount of sex the main character is having.  While we get no more information to help us pin an age to Claire, the assumption is that she is in her late teens.  I have also seen this categorized as YA.  There is no judgement about having a teen character have sex.  That is a key point in movies and books popular the world over.  And it’s not new.  I remember being a teenager and watching Llyod Dobler and Diane Court, who were in their late teens when Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes became a defining moment for both characters.   But the relationship that develops between Claire and Farron, well, it isn’t explicit but it definitely is written to make the relationship seem explicit and yet very casual.  It’s a little disturbing how trivial the sexual relationship that developed is treated.   I am not sure I am a fan of the author’s attitude and handling of the physical relationship between Claire and Farron.  It doesn’t need to be as romantic as Llyod and Diane but she certainly didn’t need Samatha Jones’ attitude about it either.

Because of all that this book isn’t, the best use of this book?  When counting sheep doesn’t put you to sleep, a chapter or two of Awakened should.

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