I really liked this book. Oh, not the super cliched and generic fantasy tale, no that was boring and well…cliched, no I like the pretty amusing “annotations” made by the author, Jim C. Hines. I’ve read his books before: Libriomancer and Codex Born and I hope to read this one soon, Unbound. Although I did have a few problems with his books in the past, for the most part I enjoyed my experience reading them. They were fun and full of great 3 dimensional characters, which is not to be found in this story. And That’s OK! Which is really the best part of reading this book. First drafts and first novels that you write are often terrible, but the best writers push on and improve.
This is actually a pretty hard book to review. The story itself is state and banal. I read a *lot* of fantasy stories and I can say the the worst ones share these traits. However the story itself isn’t why I picked up this book. I picked it up because first drafts and sometimes first books are usually not very good, some are even awful. I think this is an important concept to understand and recognize if you are going to try your hand at writing. I’d guess that many people after putting down a book that is maybe not-so-great will exclaim, “I could have done better!”, I posit that no, no you wouldn’t. I’d say that although some authors are fantastic right out of the gate, many more (perhaps almost all) need to work at it just like any other skill.
Writing is just like any other creative pursuit, the more you practice the better you get. As I said up above that is really the best take away from this book: Nobody is good right out of the gate, but if you work at it you can improve greatly.
The sarcastic annotations are fun too!