As many of you know, I occasionally do book reviews and throw them up on this blog just for fun. The book writing business is a pain in the ass, so I like to help young authors out from time to time. I generally read fantasy…but I’ll pretty much read anything anyone sends me (in this day and age, you can read until the end of time for free if you’re willing to write a review).
I met Jesse Duckworth on my Heroic Fantasy page on Facebook. His book “A Song of Betrayal” is a quick little fantasy romp. I enjoyed it more than quite a few other books I’ve read, but there are things in it that will also annoy the occasional reader. I always try to write my reviews to help people who would enjoy the book find it, and also alert those who wouldn’t to stay away. That being said, here’s the review (you can find the book on Amazon here):
“A Song of Betrayal” is a work of classic fantasy by a new writer who shows a lot of promise. The short, quick sentence structure reminded me of R.A. Salvatore on several occasions. The other book that comes to mind is Hemmingway’s In Our Time. This is because Duckworth likes to break up the action at the start of chapters by offering small vignettes (usually in all italics) that mostly give background information to the mythology of the world of Harren.
For the most part I was engaged and pleased with “A Song of Betrayal.” You can tell that Harren is a well-developed fantasy universe and the characters are often acting in response to a backstory the reader is unaware of. Sometimes this works to perfection as it leaves the reader curious for more information about the world. Occasionally, however, this story telling tactic does create some confusion.
One of the strengths of the book is how quickly it moves. I read the whole novel in just a couple hours. It felt a little bit under 50,000 words, which puts it on the short side, but I think that is an advantage for a book like this. However, there were some places where I might have urged the writer to slow down slightly. A bit more description here and there would have helped to flesh out some of the critical scenes and served to draw in the reader a bit more. Still, I believe it is better to error on the side of too little (leave them wanting more), and there is not a scene in this book where you cannot sense Duckworth’s enthusiasm for the telling.
I’m not sure that “Song of Betrayal” is a landmark work of fantasy, but it is a strong novel from a talented author who has a future writing fantasy.