Monday, August 20, 2012

The Last Falcon by Colleen Ruttan

Title: The Last Falcon
Series: The Cael Stone
Author: Colleen Ruttan
Length: 4137 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Erynn works in the kitchens at the castle and occasionally pens personal letters for the king. One day, she is under strict orders to watch the king’s message be delivered – but the falconer refuses to send it. Erynn becomes aware that there is a power struggle in the castle between the king and his subversive son, who is making deals with other warmongering nations. Erynn knows that the only way to protect the kingdom is to find another way to send the king’s letters. But since privatized falconry is outlawed, where can she turn for help?

The Good

The traditional fantasy genre, with its warring factions and political machinations holds a special place in my heart. I haven’t read a lot of it lately, but The Last Falcon reminded me of a lot of what I found appealing. Epic things are happening in the land of Valentia, centered particularly in the kingdom of Alyria. So far our nation has been left out of the battles waged by Queen Naedra in her attempt to take over the land, but war spreads ever-westward. Older Prince Gareth works to rally the kingdoms against Naedra, but while he is away his brother implements opposing plans. These are big doings in a nation on the brink of war, and we get to watch it from the front row perspective of a common kitchen girl who, of course, has a greater destiny than she could have ever dreamed.

The Bad

I had two major gripes with The Last Falcon, and both of them do fall under the category of major.

First, the book didn’t really have a plot. There was no rising action, climax, and falling action. There weren’t even little dips that made me feel like there were a bunch of mini-plots. The book kept going at relatively the same pace, with some more urgent action at the end, and then it stopped. And where it stopped was right in the middle of things, not at an opportune moment when our hero has overcome the first of many hurdles or at an edge-of-my-seat cliffhanger. There was nothing to set apart the installment that I read as its own book rather than just the introduction to a much larger fantasy work.

My other issue is that Erynn is kind of a nincompoop. I have no idea why she does most of the things she does. She discovers early on that Prince Holden is doing evil things with the bad guys of the land, and as part of that he is cutting off communication between his father the king and his brother Prince Gareth. Somewhere in here, she decides that she can’t tell the king what’s going on because she has to protect him. But she still continues to investigate what’s going on. I question the intelligence of this decision because she has absolutely no plan of what to do with the information she gets. I can only assume that she wants to get caught by the evil people and put to death, because with no allies or course of action, her best bet would have been to keep her head down.

The Romance

I was very disappointed by the lack of romance in The Last Falcon. In the first chapter, Erynn appears to have a crush on her friend’s brother Jared, but he is not in the novel at all. Plus, she’s only 14 at the beginning, so how seriously can we take her romantic attachments? For most of the book, though, she is sixteen (though she does seem a bit younger), and every time there were hints of a new male character, I got excited that they might be the love interest. I mean, there’s a prince, a captain of the guard, and a mercenary! Sadly, they are all at least partly evil. It is a tragedy unequalled in literature.

Will I read more?

I have no particular objection to reading more, though I have no assurance that the plot plans to stop meandering and start developing any time in the near future. And Erynn was still behaving much like an idiot towards the end. But the book was not terrible by any stretch, and I would like to see the good and noble people triumph over the evil queen determined to conquer the whole world.

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1 comment:

  1. When was the last time anyone used 'nincompoop' in a sentence? 1939?

    "Boy oh boy. That Hitler character is a real nincompoop!"

    Hee hee. I crack myself up.