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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Cup of the World (Cup of the World #1) by John Dickenson

Filled with immense characters, this thrilling medieval fantasy filled with moral complexity and vision announces the arrival of a special new writing talent.

Phaedra, the beautiful daughter of a baron, has been visited in dreams by an elusive knight for almost as long as she can remember. And when his presence becomes a reality, she is forced to choose him and a new life over her home and her father. But this sets off a chain of events that she could not have foreseen—a battle between good and evil, which is in turn violent and psychologically compelling. This stunning novel grapples with the huge themes of life, and turns the reader’s expectations upside down again and again, with one vertiginous plunge after another.
First Look: ***** I'd seen this a few times at the library, but really, the only reason I picked it up was because it came up in my Goodreads recommendations as "people who enjoyed the Books of Pellinor (which are utterly amazing, by the way) also enjoyed...".  I'm not sure if I completely trust the Goodreads recommendation system anymore...

Setting: ***** I wasn't very impressed by the setting.  Yes, it was okay, but it didn't really stand out to me.  It wasn't the kind of place I could immerse myself in, and wasn't very unique, as fantasy worlds go.  There was a bit of infodumping when it came to details about the setting, but not a huge amount. 

Characters: ***** I don't think I've ever disliked a main character this much.  There just wasn't anything about Phaedra that I could bring myself to like.  She was selfish and oblivious.  She ran off in the middle of the night to marry some guy (who was ten years older than her) that she'd met only in dreams, knowing full well that doing so would start a war (which didn't even make sense), and endanger her father's life.  Apparently some people see that as being a "strong female role model" or something.  I see it as selfish.  She yelled at her servants for no particular reason.  She did absolutely nothing help her situation--she just sat there and sulked.  She couldn't function without her husband. 

There's not a huge amount I can say about the minor characters.  They were less bratty and self-centered, for the most part, but there was no one that I was cheering for, no one that I actually cared about. 

Plot: *****  There was a plot...but for the most part, Phaedra wasn't involved in any of it.  There was a war going on, but Phaedra just stayed home and sulked.  And sulked some more.  It was very dull and incredibly slow.  I didn't understand why the book was even about Phaedra, because she didn't do anything.  Her husband did, and other characters were involved in the war and making things happen, but all of that was secondary to Phaedra's feelings of misery.

I didn't understand why Phaedra's eloping caused a war.  Okay, maybe the kingdom was on the verge of war already, but if you're going to write about a kingdom on the verge of war, then you need to get that message across before the war begins.

Uniqueness: *****
The thing about the "cup" was unique, I guess, but it really didn't make much sense.  I didn't like this book at all, so it's hard to give it any more than an okay rating in any category.

Writing: *****
Despite my dislike for the rest of the book, the writing actually was decent.  It definitely had a nice flow to it, and the oldish sort of language fit with the rest of the book.  If it had been an interesting book with interesting characters, I probably would've considered it well-written.

Likes: Ahem....

Not-so-great: Oh my goodness, where do I start?  I just...Did.  Not.  Like.  This.  Book.   

Total Score: I didn't like this at all.  The writing itself was decent, but unfortunately, I was utterly bored with the rest of it.  The main character made me very annoyed and even a bit angry, because i found her actions so selfish and unnecessary.  The plot dragged on and on, because the main character wasn't involved in any of the action, and some aspects of the plot didn't even make sense.  This book had the potential to be very interesting and immersive, but it wasn't.  First one star book of the year.  Not recommended for anyone at all.  I will certainly not be reading the sequels.   

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