Published April 2016
The Paladin #1
I want to start by saying congrats to JM Storin for publishing a book. I cannot imagine the hardship and trials that she must have endured and pushed through in order to make an idea from her mind, put into existence. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Storin this year at BookCon, which was great since we have been Instagram friends since I had joined the bookstagram community.
With that being said, I have thought about writing/not writing this review for several days. The truth of the matter is: I didn’t like The Paladin. And I didn’t want to write a review on it because I really, really liked the author. I tossed this idea around in my head of finishing the book, putting it back on my shelf, and that being the end of the experience. But, I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t fair to me to not express an opinion just because I wanted to protect someone else’s feelings. I cannot imagine the tough skin it takes to write a book and read critical reviews about your brain child, but, at the end of the day, you are inviting both good and bad reviews by writing a book. It is the circle of publishing, and at times, it is going to be rough. I am not going to be mean; I just want to express why this book didn’t work for ME.
Synopsis taken from goodreads: Briana is a Hunter, or at least she used to be, and she carries a secret – a powerful, one-of-a-kind stone that makes her invincible.
When a ruthless and sinister Empire discovers her secret, they steal the stone away from her. This stone in the wrong hands could be the demise of Briana’s world as she knows it and the rise of a much darker future.
Briana will stop at nothing to get back what belongs to her, and along the way she will meet friends, enemies, and discover a truth she never knew existed.
The Paladin is a fantasy novel, written in a quest like format. While the book moved really quickly, the pacing of felt almost “video-game-esque” to me. Video games? Syd, really? Bear with me here people, I am about to explain! Yes, there was a distinct end point in which the main character, Briana, is aiming towards, but all of the other events in the book are not really fleshed out to make it seem more than a “level”. So, Briana hits a checkpoint, meets new characters, graduates the level and moves on.
I liked that the novel moved quickly, even if I felt that some of the ‘checkpoints’ were unfulfilling. I also liked how the book was concluded. I already know that Storin is working on a book 2, but if she wasn’t, this would be a decent ending for a standalone novel. Main characters set out on a quest, complete quest, secure objective, no cliffhanger. Unfortunately though, the writing really didn’t work for me. I feel like The Paladin could have used a lot more editing and refinement before publication. There was a lot of telling the reader what was going on, rather than showing the reader. The descriptions for the world around Briana seemed a bit generic (the weeping woods, the abandoned valleys, the evil shadow empire etc.) for a fantasy read, and because Briana passed so quickly through each setting, there wasn’t a ton of world building going on. The dialog fell flat, and was a bit too informal for the high fantasy setting. I noticed that the hero of the story mumbled a lot, and the conversations seemed almost juvenille.
The only character that had much development was Briana, which was a little disappointing. Honestly, when Caellum was introduced, he was referred to as just ‘a boy’, so it wasn’t until almost the end of the novel that I realized him and Briana had some romantic interests in each other. There were also several characters that were introduced, given names, then not referred to again. I couldn’t help but wonder at the importance of weaving them into the plot, just to have them fade away a few pages later without a second mention.
I had thought about not finishing this book, but I am really glad I pushed through to the end and did. Of course there are going to be books that I don’t like, there isn’t a book in existence that everyone loves, but I felt legitimately bad about not liking this one. I am anxious to see the development in the author for the sequel, however, and will probably read that despite my lackluster feelings about The Paladin.
If you have read The Paladin as well, let me know your thoughts!