This one was hard to get into. I honestly didn’t finish it. Not that it wasn’t written well. Or anything like that. I was just confused. In the first story, someone has come presumably to steal three stones. But why? Who sent her and to what end? There are a bunch of faiths going around like they are in the real world, but none are explained enough to understand their differences. Furthermore, there was some bit about the leader of the whole cave meeting not having faith yet everything he does breathes faith. At what point in the story did he not show it to the extent it’s a major piece of information to the two main characters.
There’s a bit about one of the other faith leaders coming to her aid but why? She never makes her intentions clear or states why she’s interested in our main character beyond flirting with her companion. Well, he flirts with her but still, why did she choose to aid her. Then or MC says things that are supposed to be rude, mean or abrupt to her companion but they just seem like normal responses, so I had to figure out why the author wanted me to feel she was being mean to him when all I had was the sentence, his reaction, and being told she was being rude but it never felt that way.
Without her intentions being clearly made, without any of the faiths being deeply defined, without the characters themselves being fleshed out you never really know what’s going. Which, oddly enough, seems off because so much is happening. A lot of stuff is happening. And, plot spoiler, she isn’t there to steal the stones, she’s there to keep them there. That’s when the story really hit the big confusion mark. She stole the stones, put up replicas, stayed until the end of this multiple faiths meeting where they pray to quell the power of the stones, only to put them back. So, basically, I spent an entire story not really knowing what was going on only to find out the only thing that I did know, stolen stones, was in fact a ruse to keep them there.
Keeping that in mind, not really knowing in detail about any of the faiths, why she was doing this now after making the journey there the previous years, not knowing that the Faith leader who was leading this prayer session of different faiths had intentions of removing the stones from the cave before we found out, and a few more oddities made it hard to get into this. It gave the impression of just being plopped into a story with the expectation I already knew how all the cogs fit together. But without all the why, and no real character development it was entertaining but I had to think really hard and long after I read it to piece it together and I could still be very, very wrong. There was too much ‘okay but why?’ when I read this.
So that’s about it. I got into the second story and read a fairly substantial chunk of it and was still asking why? Why are there slaves? There’s a lot of firstson and secondson but how does their culture actually work? How does the hierarchy of this world work? And, more importantly, I couldn’t feel for the main character getting all ‘his friend’s death was his fault’. The way he was carrying on, mostly whining, you could see this happening a mile away and it’s the first thing that happens, so readers don’t have time to emotionally connect to him in the first place. Once his friend decided to fight and was winning, he was still trying to stop him and I was like just let him win and deal with the punishment after. They are already slaves at the very least his friend could go out with a victory if he got killed for it. It was his fault his friend died, and I didn’t sympathise with him like I felt the author wanted me to.
And, just like the first story, other than knowing he was abducted and made a slave, I don’t know much of his before, much about his present beyond the fight, and not nearly enough about the captors to make this work. Ultimately it again felt like I was just dropped into the middle of a story looking for things to connect me to the world I was transported to but the story just trudged on like I knew these things already. Seriously, I really wanted to like this, and maybe it’s just not the story for me, but I found myself continuously asking questions and needing to know more to make what I was reading make sense to me so ultimately I just had to let go of this one. Maybe I’m just not intelligent enough to get it. Maybe everything I was looking for is actually there and I was too dumb to see it. All I know is the characters weren’t deep enough for me. They weren’t fleshed out enough, and the actual realms the stories were in were not defined enough for me to latch onto these stories.