30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
For a plot summary, you'll have to refer to another review. I thought my review was already running too long, so I cut the plot description out.
I was intrigued by this book when I saw it listed as an Early Reviewer offering at Librarything.com. I love historical fiction, and I enjoy archeology - but I know very little of the Stone Age/Bronze Age and even less about prehistoric Ireland. So this seemed to be a great way to learn a little through a pleasantly diverting novel.
By the time I reached the hundred page mark, I had determined that I would not be finishing this book. It was a very poor match for me and my personal tastes. These are the key reasons:
1. There wasn't adequate proofreading/editing, so odd sentences show up that don't make sense.
Take this line from the opening paragraph:
"A glut of vehicles, their noise, the fumes, assailed his broad shoulders." (1)
OK. Assail = attack, yes? There's an excessive supply of cars, and the noise and stench of them are attacking...a man's shoulders? What?? Unless the cars are attempting to run him over, there's no way this sentence can begin to make sense, since shoulders can neither smell nor hear. The following passage makes it clear, however, that the unnamed man isn't roadkill. Odd sentences like this appeared frequently enough to distract me from the story - never a good thing.
On a lesser note, there are quite a few grammatical errors scattered throughout. Semicolons connect fragments together; errant commas sprout randomly in the middle of sentences. In one form or another, there's a mistake on almost every page. Again, I found it incredibly distracting.
2. Formatting is inconsistent.
Italics are applied inconsistently for internal dialogue. It's clear that some internal thoughts are being had, but they aren't clearly demarcated. It seemed like a fifty-fifty split - half the time, characters' thoughts appear in italics. The rest of the time, nothing is done to differentiated thoughts from actions. It just seems...sloppy to me. Again, I feel like a proofreader should have caught this before the book went to print.
3. Dialogue is stiff and awkward.
I did like that there's a clear difference between how the Starwatchers and the Invaders speak, but the manner in which the Starwatchers talk does come across as very unnatural.
4. This last one is a very personal bias. I don't like it when ancient societies are portrayed as peaceful, earth-hugging hippie types who are at peace with the world and at one with each other, living in perfect harmony until the day a Big Bad Other comes along and runs them over with their evil technological ways. I just can't buy the myth of a peaceful society.
I'd say that it was the Maya civilization that ruined this for me. Back at the beginning of the 20th century, it was widely thought that the Maya were a quiet, peaceful civilization worshiping the stars and lead by stargazer-priests. One hundred years later, we know that isn't true at all; the Maya were warriors, practiced blood sacrifice, and had a complex government system. They weren't at all like the stargazer-priests.
The Minoans, too, were long thought to be a peaceful society of merchants, but again, archeology has revealed the presence of fortifications and weapons on Crete. I guess I don't have faith in humanity - I don't think we can exist without conflict, and a truly harmonious society is a fantasy. But because of this bias, I couldn't buy into the Starwatchers society created by J. S. Dunn.
As I said before, I don't know much about this time period in Ireland or the archeological evidence to support Dunn's creation, but the author provides a short but comprehensive summary in the final chapter of recent archeological discoveries pertaining to the monoliths and the Boyne river area. A bibliography of the author's research wasn't in the printed book, but it is available on his (or her?) website.
Even though I object to the peaceful Boyne natives (it's just too mythological for my tastes) I would have been able to keep reading had the sloppiness of the writing and editing not killed it for me. I know that small presses don't have the same resources as the big publishing houses, but I still expect a professional, polished product if I'm to devote several hours to reading it. It really makes a difference. As it was, I was skimming by the halfway point, and I skipped most of the final third of the book.