Monday, August 27, 2012

The Slayer and the Sphinx by Adam Bolander

Title: The Slayer and the Sphinx: Book 1
Author: Adam Bolander
Length: 1609 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Porter is a Slayer, a hunter of mythical beings, and he is very good at what he does. Sarah is a sphinx who is never allowed to leave her house because she is not good enough at disguising herself as the humans she despises. When Porter and his team attack Sarah’s house, things go horribly wrong. Sarah teleports away, accidentally bringing an injured, amnesiac Porter with her. She knows she should kill him, as he will certainly kill her if he gets his memory back, but she can’t bring herself to harm an unarmed man. And so the slayer and the sphinx must travel together as they try to find their way back to civilization.

The Good

The Slayer and the Sphinx is a cute little story about two people on opposite sides of a war who are forced to work together to survive on a journey that is dangerous for both of them.  The world is an interesting version of a modern one where our two heroes somehow end up in an environment that reminds me of nothing so much as a role-playing-game-like scenario where they have a goal of reaching civilization but have a number of random encounters along the way. Some of the people they run into want to help them, and some want to harm them, and some it’s hard to tell which. They each have different skills that are useful in different situations, so at times Sarah and Porter each has to save the other one.

The Bad

One thing I’m finding about self-published books is that they are frequently shorter than traditionally published books. (And the rest of the time they’re much longer. It’s an odd balance.) I don’t have a problem with shorter books per se, and I’ve found that the length of time it takes me to read something is more contingent on the quality of the writing than the number of Kindle units or pages a book has. But there are times, as is the case with The Slayer and the Sphinx that I have a problem with the length because I am not getting an entire book. This might not be too bad if I had any assurance that the story was going to go somewhere, but when the first book fails to have a story arc, I lack evidence that I am ever going to get one. My overall comment is “Write an entire book before you publish one.”

My other issue with the book is that it hits you over the head with its themes. We have Slayers who kill Mythics without any real cause, and we have Mythics who look down on humans. Clearly both sides need to learn a lesson here, but it could definitely be more subtle.

The Romance

At one point we meet an elf who can tell the future, and he predicts that both Sarah and Porter will fall in love with someone who will create social problems for them. Since I have read books before, I have a suspicion of how this is going to play out, though I confess to some curiosity regarding the mechanics. Regardless, nothing in this vein happens in this installment, so I declare this a romance-free zone.

Will I read more?

I found the story of The Slayer and the Sphinx, with its series of random encounters, to be interesting and fun. I would like to know how things play out when Porter’s “friends” find him, and when the pair finally gets to the Mythic hideout that certainly won’t welcome a human. But I kind of wanted all that to happen in this book. As it is, I have no sense of when we are going to get there or whether that will be the end of the story. If I had some reassurance that I was going to get a good plot starting up somewhere along the line, I would be motivated to read more. But without that, I don’t think I’ll invest in more of the story.

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