Thursday, September 13, 2012

Estelan by Trace Broyles

Title: Estelan
Series: Estelan
Author: Trace Broyles
Rating: 1.5 stars

The Plot

Late one night, the Moon Temple is attacked, and only one priestess survives, so far as anyone knows. The powerful members of the realm realize that this means the darkness is coming into the world, and First One Kriton gathers a group of warriors to prepare for the coming battle.

The Good

Some of the mythology of Estelan was very interesting. The main power struggle seemed to be between light and dark First Ones, and many of the participants in the battle were their children, who had varying special powers and immortality. The people in this world did not age gradually, the way that one would expect. Instead, they go through a Transition where they go from being children to being adults overnight. Sometimes magical marks appear on a person’s body during the Transition, indicating what future they are destined for. I thought this was a creative and cool way to deal with characters aging.

The Bad

I once played this D&D game where all our characters started at 9th level and were presumed to have been traveling together for some time. Unfortunately, we hadn’t actually played these characters before, so we actually knew absolutely nothing about each other. Awkwardness ensued. I had not felt this way again until I read Estelan. I felt like I was introduced to the many, many characters, and I was expected to have all kinds of back knowledge about them that I just didn’t have. I mean, when I’ve spent only a couple hours with a man and a girl, and he suddenly reveals that he is her father, this is not particularly meaningful to me. I mean, sure, it’s a big deal for her, but I honestly don’t care.

As I began to read Estelan, I was upset because I had no idea what was going on. I banged my head against the text for quite a long time trying to make sense of it. Eventually I accepted that I was not going to be able to achieve 100% comprehension and let it go. Which turned out to be the right choice because it turns out that absolutely nothing happens. Seriously. There is an undefined attack in the temple, and the unidentified forces later attack some people in the village. Some of the villagers get together and realize they must hide/go on some journey. But they don’t seem to have any goal in mind, other than to fight the nebulous darkness. But that’s okay because they’re all more concerned about getting married and having babies than anything else.

The Romance

So the romance was actually the only thing about the story I could actually follow. First we had Pallia the priestess, who escapes from the temple after the attack and marries the man she was supposed to marry before she was forced to become a priestess. He is a mage, and I think the mages are supposed to be evil. I was not a huge Pallia fan at the beginning because she seemed to want to use the attack as a way to escape the temple. But she seemed to do largely neutral and good stuff for the rest of the book, so I supposed she was supposed to be some sort of protagonist.

Shai/Mina also escapes from the temple and goes into hiding with Nain, who recently lost his wife. Luckily, Mina looks like Nain’s dead wife, and his father thinks they should get married, so they do. This seems to work out well for them.

Kitin and Roane are in love with each other, but for some unnamed reason related to their fate to save the world, she refuses to acknowledge this relationship.

Will I read more?

I cannot stress enough that I could not follow what was going on in the first book. Consequently, I can have no interest in what happens next. I mean, I do kind of hope that Kitin and Roane work out their issues, but that’s only a passing thought. So I wish all the characters the best, but if they wanted me to invest more in their journey, they should have told me wtf they were doing.

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