Monday, August 20, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Eye of the Sword - A Review


Welcome to the August CSFF Blog Tour! This time around, the featured book is Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley. (Doesn't the cover look great at right? And it reflects the main character and turning point in the book too. More on that below.) I decided to jump into this, my first blog tour, head first thus I ended up reading the book and crafting a review. So, without ado, I present my review of Eye of the Sword.

First, I must make something clear. This book is book 2 in what looks to me will be a fantasy trilogy. I was not able to read book 1, Breath of Angel, beforehand so I made do with summaries online. Book 3 (which I'm assuming will be titled Blood of Man due to the advertisement in the back of Eye of Sword) has not been released yet and I have no idea when it will be published.

Plot and Universe

I shall focus first on the plotline and construction of the world. This book, in my opinion, is well written and well paced. The plot is engaging and just when you think you've figured out what's going to happen, Henley throws in a twist to keep you off balance. The outward plot is fairly straightforward though. It is constructed around a quest archetype where the lowly knight must prove his worth by seeking firstly an oracle (at the king's command) and secondly the two remaining harps (at the princess' request). However, the quest could be seen as having a deeper meaning because the main character, Comain Trevin, discovers more than an oracle or harps. He discovers himself. I won't say too much more because that would give away the biggest plot twist in the whole book.

The pacing of the plot kept me eagerly turning the pages to read what happened next. The first few pages were an excellent hook, not because of surprising characters or twists, but because the universe or storyworld was well painted in a few strokes with well chosen world specific words. I don't know whether this hook would have been as effective as if I'd read Breath of Angel because the term that intrigued me was, to my knowledge, explained in the first book. But coming into the second book with no previous introduction left me curious as to how the world was built and kept me reading. I wish, though, that the author had included some form of summary of book 1. It would have helped in establishing what events had preceded book 2 and also what had been "discovered" by the characters by that point in time.

This lack of summary led to my not quite being sure of many of the universe's constructions and systems. For example, the opening pages give a list of characters and, also, the ranks of angels in this world. However, the latter was only briefly touched upon in Eye of the Sword leading me to believe that the full description of the angels was found in book 1 and Henley assumed the readers would be familiar with it. I wasn't, so I ended the book with very little enlightening as to how the system worked or was constructed. This was also true of other things mentioned like the Draks.

The Christian Perspective

Good wins over evil and the lesson of forgiveness is well expounded in this book. Therefore you can tell it was written by someone who holds to the values of Christianity. However, the part with the angels bugged me. I hate to use the word, but the only one that comes to mind is 'heretical'. I've read several stories before where the concept of angels and demons are twisted into a fantasy which doesn't mirror reality, but I never expected to see it used in a book by a Christian. It read to me like a half-hearted attempt to insert God into a fantasy world and modify Him and his angels to fit the world. I didn't like it. I wouldn't have minded as much if the author hadn't used Biblical terms to suit her fancy. If, let's say, Henley had created a different term for the angels and not claimed that that they had any relation to the angels in the Bible then I would have been perfectly fine with it. However, the angels turned into an odd fantasy device which distorted reality. This was the one sour bit in the whole book. The rest I loved.

Overall, I liked this book. I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in YA fantasy that is based in a Christian worldview. The virtues taught are of forgiveness, bravery, courage, righteousness, and the consequences of actions which are good and useful for the teaching of children. Read it, read book 1 if you feel like it, and join me in waiting for book 3. I really want to know what happens!

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Book sold here: Eye of the Sword (Angelaeon Circle Series #2)
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Until next time!
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