CSFF Day 3 – The Realms Thereunder Review
Hi again everyone! Today is the final day for this month’s CSFF blog tour, and I’m relieved because the rest of the week won’t be quite as hectic, but also sad because it’s been fun so far! Though this afternoon/evening, I’ll hopefully have time to go around and visit all my fellow tour participants!
So today, I’m going to actually review The Realms Thereunder.
I’m going to give you a warning – I don’t enjoy reviewing books. I’m definitely a read-it and keep-it-to-myself kind of girl. Part of this is because I don’t always know how to get my analytic thoughts out on paper (it’s been a few years since Freshman Comp in college :D). The other part is since I write so much, and I have 4 critique partners that I work/swap stuff with, I can’t seem to get out of critique mode. So, my review may be a bit more technical from the story-writing point of view.
Overall, I very much enjoyed reading The Realms Thereunder.
It could have been more powerful, though. The paragraph that I shared in Monday’s post, that was the only part of the book that really resonated with me. I was hoping for more like that, and there was some, but not quite as powerful.
The point-of-view and time jumps were an effective way of telling the story, but it could have been done a little smoother. There were at least all of these different sections:
Daniel and Freya in the past (as children).
Daniel in the present.
Freya in the present.
Character who we weren’t really quite sure how he fits into the plot surrounding Daniel & Freya until the end of the book in the present.
Jumping back and forth between time, places, and points of view is a challenging way to tell the story. It’s so very similar to flashbacks, and it takes a lot of skill to pull it off.
Ross Lawhead pulled it off, but it needed a bit more polishing.
I really like Daniel. As a person, he was consistent. I could see how the experiences that he and Freya went through as a child shaped who he became in the present.
Freya was frustrating to me. Not because she was lacking as a person, but because nothing is revealed about her. I understood her motivations as a child, but I didn’t understand them as an adult. She alternates between extreme passion for something (as mentioned before about conveying the truth to people), but also extreme fear. Why?
Not only that, but she also ends up spending 90% of her time in the story under an enchantment, and not even realizing it. When the make-believe characters in her mind (created by the enchantment) start listing genealogies and she falls asleep over and over again, I almost fall asleep too.
It’s one thing to FEEL what the character is feeling, but it’s another entirely to DO what the character is feeling. Writers should be working to achieve the first, not the latter, because there were times I almost put down the book because it wasn’t compelling me to read more, it was compelling me to take a nap.
I knew before starting to read the book that it is the first in a trilogy (it says it right on the front cover, after all), and so I knew that the plot wasn’t going to be completely wrapped up in the first book.
But it felt more like it was barely hinted at. Reading this book felt more like a prequel than the first book in a trilogy.
I wanted to see Daniel and Freya together more. I wanted to see Freya come to some realization about herself besides “Okay, at the very least, I should help Daniel.”
I loved the Knights far more than any other character. They made me smile and laugh and cry. They were the ones with something to lose here. If Freya had anything to lose, it wasn’t made obvious. Daniel definitely had nothing to lose. He embraced the adventure wholeheartedly, and not that it was bad, but there was no conflict for him.
So why didn’t we see the story from the Knights point of view?
Disclaimer: Through participation in the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
If I were Ross Lawhead, I would so want to get a hold of this post. You’ve provided some wonderful feedback that, if utilized toward the next books, could coost the impact of the books to follow.
Aww, thanks, Angela! I’ve not been the only person saying some of these things, so hopefully he’ll see it somewhere along the way 🙂
I too would have loved to see more about the knights. They were my favorite characters. More about Freya and her background would have been nice too. I didn’t have a problem with Daniel though. I loved how he jumped into the adventure in order to escape his current life. I almost rooted for him to be able to stay there and not have to return to life with his mom. Nice job.
I wanted Daniel to stay too! And I didn’t have a problem at all with his leaping for the adventure, he had a reason to do so. But he still didn’t have anything to lose either way. He was fine with staying there, but he was equally as fine with going with Freya so they could get home. There was no internal conflict.
Hmmm. . . a story from the knights point of view would be a neat angle. 🙂 Maybe one of the books in the trilogy will be written that way, like in the Aurelia’s Thread series.
Hmm, I don’t believe I’ve read Aurelia’s Thread *makes note to look it up*. I would love a book from the Knight’s point of view!
Man, I get super annoyed by books that are more prequel, background than an actual first book. That’s not fun. But, the story sounds interesting.
Also: You’ve been tagged! http://iwriteandread.blogspot.com/2012/02/wip-wednesday-week-3-and-tag-youre-it.html
Not again! XD I’ve been tagged a total of five times so far . . .
But yeah, little things kept wrapping up, and I kept thinking, “Okay! NOW something’s going to happen!”
And it never did . . . *sigh*
I like your review, Rebekah. (You should do more of them rather than keeping your thoughts to yourself, in my opinion. 😉 )
I have mixed emotions about this book and you’ve illuminated one of the reasons why that I hadn’t nailed down before — low stakes for the main characters. So what if they didn’t succeed? I suspect the consequences will escalate in the next books in the trilogy. But in this one it didn’t seem all that serious. I mean, we know Daniel and Freya as children make it out, so that part was settled. So why did it matter to them?
Yep, an excellent point. Thank you.
I think the plot would have been much more powerful if certain things had remained hidden. It would have been nice if we read the story about their time as children first, not knowing if they survive or not, and then had the present day. The “Gad” situation could have been left unresolved until the very end, us not knowing the decision Freya made until the end . . . at least, that’s just my opinion, lol.
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Glad you powered through your doubts and wrote the review. This was very insightful! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier, and thanks for the ego stroke 🙂 It was a fun idea… the questions and the character development… and I’m sure I’ll be sifting through the fruits of it for many drafts to come.
Hope to see you around the blogosphere more. I’m off to write my first campaign challenge entry 🙂
You’re welcome, I really do think you had a fabulous idea there. Good luck with your challenge entry!
I agree with Melissa, check out Jeffrey Overstreet.
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