Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: The Rise of Aredor

The Rise of Aredor by Claire M. Banschbach

Recommended for: Ages 10 to Adult

Rating: PG (for violence)

Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor’s shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin’s former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin’s path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.

This is a rather difficult review to write. I really wanted to love this book. Claire likes a lot of the same books as me, like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Ilyon Chronicles, and even watches Doctor Who. I thus had high hopes for The Rise of Aredor, but it never made it to my favorites list.

Writing: 3/5

As other reviewers have said, the beginning of this book is rather choppy. There was a good bit of head hopping, and it changed scenes too dramatically too often. This definitely evened out later on and got much better. There really wasn't any character voice, though, and I was never really drawn into the story. Grammatically, it was well done, though I did notice a handful of typos.

Setting: 4/5

The Rise of Aredor is set in a magic-free fantasy world with a medieval-type feel. The setting actually reminded me a good bit of The Horse and His Boy, and some elements (like the skin dye) of The Last Battle, particularly Calorin, which had several similarities to Calormen. While there were many similarities to Narnia, it still was different enough to be it's own world. Narnians will be quite at home there.

Plot: 3/5

I liked the plot of Part 2. Part 1 really felt to me more like backstory or a prologue. Part 1 tells of how Corin was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Calorin and his life there. I really felt, especially in this part, that there was too much shoved into the space so that none of it had time to be explored properly. There were a lot of battles (though none of them very graphic), as Corin, now called Hamid, became a soldier for Calorin. I like a good battle as a climax (Molly Evangeline does an excellent job at this), but too many battles tend to bore me. Which is why my sisters and I are not big fans of the movie Gettysburg. I would have preferred more time to be spent on the characters than the battles. The second part was definitely better, as it had an objective: freeing Corin's family and the country of Aredor. It was more interesting, as there was more action that wasn't a battle (and there were finally a few girl characters). I think the book would have been better had Claire picked the important parts of the story to delve deeply into and omitted the endless battles. Still, she definitely has potential, and I hope she keeps writing.

Character Development: 4/5

The characters are fairly well developed and each seem unique, but I never really connected to any of them. I felt more like an outsider watching a group of close friends interact than a part of the inner group. I think deep character point of view would have helped me to connect. I was concerned for Corin when he got hurt, and for other characters when they had their injuries and illnesses, I just never really felt what they were going through.

Claire M. Banschbach has a lot of potential as a writer, it was just not fully realized in this, her first novel. While The Rise of Aredor is unfortunately not a favorite of mine it is still a good book and I still have high hopes for the sequel, The Wildcat of Braeton.

I received a free e copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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