Lost in Glory - Revew
Overall, this is a creditable effort with frequent flashes of inspiration and a highly original storyline told very tongue in cheek.I read the first paragraph and immediately wanted to give a five star review. This is my kind of story and I suspect, like me, the author eats Terry Pratchett cornflakes for breakfast and swills them down with dwarf beer.
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Sadly, it got downgraded as I read on, not for lack of ingenuity or incipient humour but for trying much too hard. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, and read it with a half-smile permanently on my face, and outright guffawed on occasion, a lot of the comedy was a bit forced – and that was only because there was far too much of it. This is very much a case of less would be infinitely better. One joke follows so hard on the heels of another that you forget to take a breath and lose track of where you are. It sort of gets exhausting and needs to be paced out a bit which, I know, is difficult when you are having fun and the author had a lot of fun with this story.
Although I appreciated the absurdity of the White Rabbit bit, this was a case in point – it didn’t need to be there - as was the incident with the bandit scratching his head, and a lot more like that could well have been left out without harming the story. I do like this meta-fictional approach where the author is actually kind of mocking his own story occasionally, but that kind of took over towards the end of the book.
There is an awful lot to like about this story and there are some really good ideas that Pratchett himself would have been proud of. The character and mannerisms of the Paladin is absolutely spot-on. The exchange between the ogres was funny, for instance, but it was a bit too derivative of Pratchett’s Trolls. Also, although the characters are well drawn, they do seem to speak with the same voice – just a bit. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to determine whether it is the Paladin, the dwarf or the princess speaking, for instance and the same can be said for other characters. Again, it is the superfluity of jokes and banter that account for this where the comedy is the centre of attention rather than the task of taking the story forward.
I get the impression that the author is also trying too hard with the various names to make them amusing, although I do like the description of how the city got its name and I did actually laugh out loud at the bit where it was said that the ‘lesser generals job was just to repeat the general’s orders but a bit louder’. That was a classic! Similarly the Rabid squirrel pit was a nice touch (to paraphrase) but that whole section about the pits was just too ... well ...pitty.
‘Jeffery’s not home’. I almost fell off my chair at that one.
The Sillysquid play on words went on a bit too long for me and, in fact this whole section about the Lord seemed rather too inconclusive; the second set of guards, for instance, was not necessary, and later, the Magical nut of fertility in the forest seemed like another joke placed in there for no reason.
In a few places the author misplaces tenses: he says things like ‘knight did come from’ instead of ‘knight came from’ and that pulls the reader up short. Only can – should be can only; get over with it – should be get it over with; know where is the oracle – should be know where the oracle is, for instance.
Love the not killing for mercy bit and sticking the dagger in the peasant!. The snake was good but out of place since nothing came of it, another instance of stuff that could usefully be left out. In fact, there is enough stuff that could be left out of this piece that would make a useful sequel.
The ghost’s conversation is really difficult to follow and that should be put more into common English with just a hint of wooo hoooo.
I think that that beginning of chapter 4 had the kind of narrative thread that would benefit the rest of the book, but again, following that very readable extract, there are just too many jokes and the descriptions of the Lords which, whilst amusing doesn’t really take the story forward and, in fact the whole process of the choosing of the candidate was overlong with comedy for comedy’s sake. Really, the book is essentially a series of set pieces and sketches brilliantly visualised but, in the end, gets rather surreal with the fish when it starts to smack of Douglas Adams. Not a bad comparison, I suppose but I felt that didn’t weave into the weft of the story very well.
I really liked the interplay between Vannard and the sorceress – good characterisation there, but again it went on too long each time. It was overplayed, and the reader began to lose interest in what should have been very rewarding exchanges.
Actually, what needs to happen here is for the author to let Vannard loose among the pages to ‘murder the author’s darlings’. Thus suitably pruned it would be a corker of a story well worthy of five stars even though you can feel the ghost of Sir Terry orchestrating events from afar all the time, even down to the thinly disguised pastiches of his characters. .