My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders. But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium.
Britain's Green Rider series has been one of my favourites since reading the first book many, many years ago. Green Rider is definitely the best in the series, followed closely by First Rider's Call, the second book. I found the third, The High King's Tomb, to be somewhat less impressive than the first two but was still a book I felt was worthy of the series. The fourth book, however... let's just say this one has some problems.
There are quite a number of things that were issues for me, and perhaps some are just a little nit-picky.
The length of this book was not so much an issue, but I must ask... Was it really necessary to have so many pages for how little that occurred in the book? The first couple hundred pages consisted of... very little story progression. It was slow! Additionally, there is a lot of back-story, and reference to previous books, all throughout the novel. Sometimes it works, and is welcomed, but it came across awkwardly and was not always necessary. Another issue came from the point-of-views at the beginning of the book, which leads into my next point.
2. Where is Karigan?
The first couple books in the series focused more on Karigan than any other character, and that changed more notably in the third. I found it a little awkward at first, but it is understandable to add more POV's as a story expands. However, with Blackveil, it seemed as if Karigan was being shoved into the background. The book starts off following Grandmother, and then switched to Stevic G'ladheon, Karigan's father. (And Stevic is boring!) I did not understand why he was chosen as a character to follow, even briefly.
3. What's my Genre?
When did this turn into a Romance? And why are there pirates? Seriously?
Yes, there has been always been someone Karigan is interested in, but it's never been enough to really qualify the novel as a Romance, to me. The second issue I have with this is that the main character (is she, still?) is not even a part of the romance(s) that occur in the novel. She's stuck away in Blackveil.
Blackveil, we are told, is a creepy, dark, and dangerous place. Bad Things happen in Blackveil. We are told this, and as I read this novel I really did not get the impression was all that bad. Sure, some people went crazy, and some people died, but that happened similarly outside Blackveil, as well. Turns out the water is still drinkable, most of the group survived, and Karigan Saved the Day (again.) Mostly. Given what was eluded to in previous novels, I expected a little more out of the "other side of the Wall."
5. (contains spoiler. highlight to view.) Drugs and Rape are Okay!
So... there's a conspiracy that occurs after an assassination attempt on King Zachary. He is poisoned and lying in his could-be death bed, and his advisers are conspiring to move up Zachary's and Estora's wedding - obviously without the king's consent. It turns out this was not enough, so Britain includes that the wedding must be consummated, with an audience, to ensure heirs. Zachary (who is poisoned and dying and until this point, mostly comatose!) and Estora are drugged and eventually, well, work on marking heirs. How is having sex with a sick, poisoned, and feverish man who can hardly speak for himself be 1: possible and 2: okay? The whole scene was quite surprising, and somewhat disturbing in the implications. Even after all of this, it was presented in a very insensitive and tactless way, as well.
Returning to the pacing issue, the book felt short plot-wise. There were a lot of pages, and because very little happened, Blackveil felt like a story half-told. By the time the ending came around things were finally getting interesting and.. that's it. It is almost as if the majority of this book was set-up for the next - it was really missing that extra bit (of something) the previous ones had. And now we won't get to know what happens for another 2-3 years, if we're lucky. Alas, that's something for another day.
I do want to mention that, despite some odd phrasing and spelling errors, Blackveil is generally well written - something that has been improving steadily throughout the series. Overall, I enjoyed most of the book, despite the areas that were severely lacking. Given the amount of time between books getting published, I suppose I have expected more out of this book. Still, I will be picking up the next in the series, and not-so-secretly hoping some of these issues are addressed.
But, no.. really, what is with the pirates?
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