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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Book of Names (Legends of Karac Tor #1) by D. Barkley Briggs

It’s Thanksgiving Break and chores are being handed out. Hadyn, nearly 16 and the oldest of the four Barlow brothers, is told by his father to clear the back acres of their new farm. Hadyn resents life. After losing his mother to cancer and relocating away from the only home he’s ever known, he misses his friends and his Mom. While hacking through a briar patch, a strange rock formation arouses his curiosity. After four mysterious black birds deliver a strange summons, Hadyn and his brother Ewan realize the stone is really a magic Viking runestone. Through this portal, they cross into the ancient world of Karac Tor.

Crisis looms. In the Five Dominions of Karac Tor, names are being stolen from the young—literally erased from the sacred Book of Names. Meanwhile, the sorceress Nemesia is spreading darkness from her Tower of Ravens. While Hadyn and Ewan are immediately hailed as Champions sent to help rescue the land, the brothers have a far more simple goal: find their way home—and stay alive! As the seductive call of Nemesia lures them towards despair, the Barlows must discover power and courage they never knew they possessed. Yet even if they survive, will anyone know how to send them back to our world? Or will they be lost forever?

Released:  June 20th 2008              Pages: 381
Publisher:  Living Ink Books         Source: received as a gift

First Look: ***** This looked pretty interesting.  Mainly because I like fantasy and am rather partial to brother-brother stories.  Perhaps because I wrote one myself.

Setting: ***** First off, why does every book character hate moving to the country?  I live in a rural area, and I love it.  I rather like not being hedged in by people on all sides.  But it seems that book characters are only capable of liking to live in the city.  Why does this happen?

Anyway, Karac Tor.  It actually confused me a little.  I could never figure out what exactly I was supposed to think about it.  At first it seemed like some sort of surreal fairy world, but then it turned into a war-hardened (kind of but not really) kingdom.  And none of it was particularly memorable.

Fun fact: If you say Karac Tor five times fast, it sounds like "tractor".  Or at least, it does in my head.

Characters: ***** There were some nice moments between Hadyn and Ewan where I could start to see the bond between them, and maybe some tension.  I wish the author would've taken this further, though.  It seems like they had all the potential for a deep, complex relationship, but it never went beyond the surface.  I liked them, but it was an "I want this character to win" rather than an "I love this character to death and it's like they're real and if something happens to them I will send an angry letter to the author". 

My other problem was that these boys adjusted way too easily to Karac Tor.  They've just been thrown out of the modern world into a medieval one, but they hardly have any issues at all with it.  They accept the reality of it almost instantly, and from there it was like they'd grown up in the place.  They had no problems with the strange food, clothing, customs, etc.  It was unrealistic.

Plot: ***** It was all pretty generic.  Some siblings move to a new place, find something odd, get transported into fantasy world and from there have to save said world.  There was nothing to make it stand out.  Perhaps this should go under "uniqueness", but the lack of originality was what kept from from liking this.

That, and the fact that Ewan and Hadyn didn't do much.  Sure, they were along for all of the adventures, but did they themselves make anything happen?  No, not really.

Uniqueness: *****
Already discussed.

Writing: *****
I found typos.  Not just one typo, but multiple.  And not simple things, like a misplaced quotation mark.  No, this book had at least one instance of two words stuck together likethis.  And more.  Is it that hard to line edit?  I don't think so.

Other than that, the writing actually had some nice moments where I could really feel the emotion of the characters.  For the most part, though, it was unmemorable. 

Can we all just take a moment and think about what's happening on the cover of the third book?  At first I was thinking "So this is what orcs do when they're done filming LOTR."  And then I notice another orc.  Alrighty then.  And then I notice Tinkerbell in the corner and her facial expression...and I'm laughing so hard I can't even breathe...two orcs versus Tinkerbell...I'm dying over here...this is so much funnier than it should be...  And honestly, this would have been the funniest thing I've seen all day, but earlier I saw this video (it's short but it's a gem...and it's actually really stupid but it's so incredibly entertaining), so it can't claim that honor.

Not-so-great: Hadyn's dad originally wanted to name him "Ransom".  Hadyn's mom "had a dream" where she somehow realized her son's name should be "Hadyn", so Dad agrees to it.  This is not a divine intervention.  This is a "Seriously, husband?  That kid will hate us forever if we call him that".  Or maybe it is divine intervention.  Maybe God looked down and said "You know what, let's give her this dream because this kid doesn't deserve to be bullied for having an unusual name."

Overall: This was an unoriginal book, which made it rather unmemorable.  It had the potential to be exciting, but in that regard it fell flat.  I kind of cared about the characters, but not to a huge extent.  Not as much as I would've liked to.  And besides, they adjusted way too easily to living in a fantasy world.  It had some nice moments, but overall it was just an okay read.

Similar Books: It bears many similarities to The Door Within, with the most obvious being the city-boy-goes-to-fantasy-world thing.  It also a similar feel to the Ranger's Apprentice books, which begin with The Ruins of Gorlan

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