22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I had the privilege of receiving a free signed copy of this book by the author. Fantasy has always been my favorite gene, and none is dearer to my heart than a young hero's journey of discovery, which is what this tale is. As far as epics go, The Divine Apprentice is low scale, with the majority of the book focusing on Kade's personal growth and merely hinting at the major conflict against the Big Baddie (Kade meets him only briefly), but the setting up of Kade's character still makes this book enjoyable.
First off, the pros:
Dragons. I am a HUGE dragon fan, and sadly I don't encounter them enough in my fantasy reading. I mean, c'mon. DRAGONS! Dragons make everything better! Rayden, the dragon of the story, is a lovely take on the whole dragon thing. He reminded me a lot of Toothless from the How To Train Your Dragon movie. He doesn't have human level intelligence, but he's at least as intelligence as a pretty smart pet one would have. Another thing I love about Rayden is how he and Kade got together. Instead of Kade hatching him or taming him, their first encounter involves a fight against a powerful monster in which they save each other's lives. That's a bond that is far more powerful and goes far deeper than a simple imprinting or a gradual working on Kade's part to build up the dragon's trust.
Magic. Another thing I love in fantasy is a good magic system. Two of my favorite magic systems are Brandon Sanderson's Allomancy and Patrick Rothfuss's Sympathy. This magic system could well become my third favorite. The magic system here is called the Divine, and can only be wielded by a few Chosen. The Divine involves a series of Moves, which is mostly complex hand movements, combined with the proper words at the end of the sequences. I envisioned this as a dance of a sort, which I enjoyed more than the standard "waving of hands or concentrating hard" that most magic systems employ. There's a second magic system as well, employed by another character Kade meets, called Nature's Gift. This magic system involves drawing on one's own energy to channel healing or shields. As this magic system is not used by Kade, how it works is a bit vague, but the concept is interesting nonetheless.
Kade. No matter how awesome the dragons or the magic system might be, they cannot hold a story on their own. Luckily, they didn't have to. While Kade isn't a terribly unique character, I still enjoyed following his story. When we finally meet him, he's stormed out of his lessons because he's frustrated his master wants him to learn some mundane Divine moves rather than the awesome kind. I mean, given the choice between learning a Silence Casting and Lightening Calling, it's a no brainer what you would chose. Unfortunately, this kind of impatience and recklessness is something that gets Kade into trouble. It's also the type of attitude one would expect from a 20-year-old, which makes his character all the more believable. I also enjoyed the dark streak that Kade showed at certain parts of the book. If one had the type of power at their fingertips that Kade has, it's only natural that it would have a seductive quality that could entice a well- meaning person to the darker side. I hope that the author will continue to explore this angle in future books.
Now for the cons. Why, despite all my praises, did I only give it three stars? Sadly, the book suffered throughout from Beginner Author Syndrome as the author made a number of mistakes made by beginner authors. The biggest culprit was head-hopping. Unfortunately, even successful author John Flannigan of the Ranger's Apprentice series makes this mistake, and it annoys me to no end. When in a scene, please stick to the viewpoint of ONE character. Not only is jumping from character to character confusing and headache- inducing, it destroys all chances of suspense. For example, when Kade's master Zayle threatens to kick him out if he's lying, I never have the opportunity to worry with Kade that Zayle will act on his threat because seconds after he makes it, the viewpoint jumps to Zayle's head, where I'm told that Zayle has no intention of carrying out his threat. I enjoy being in suspense and worrying for my characters. I enjoy wondering along with the main character what other's motivations or thoughts are. Constant head -hopping ruins that bond I enjoy with a single viewpoint per scene character.
If the viewpoint was once character per scene, it would be easier for me to overlook the other mistakes. But while minor, there are other qualities to the writing that bother me as well, especially since they are newbie mistakes. First off, the use of "He hissed" in a sentence in which there was not a single "s" used. Another was the sentence "He grinned evilly." I had to pause reading right there to roll my eyes and do a mental face palm as the line was so corny it threw me right out of the story. I'm sure I could have figured out that it was an "evil grin" based on the fact Kade was currently enjoying blasting the s*** out of the baddie. Also, the use of "ly" words in general when connected to dialogue. Don't tell me she said anything happily, guiltily, or cautiously. SHOW me.
Despite the fact that the writing could be better, I still enjoyed the book. I will read the others, and hopefully the author's writing will improve as he gains more experience. So, if you enjoy a good fantasy and are willing to overlook its flaws, then this book is for you.
(this review is also posted on Goodreads)