The Prince Of Tabor: Book 1

2 Stars Amazon

Okay, this was another book that I really wanted to enjoy. The first chapter is okay, the characters are well-defined. It sits nicely in what you would expect for an epic fantasy and then on top of that, the villain is fun fun fun. But as I got further into the story that’s when things got odd.

The opening reads like a prologue. Lots of readers are not fans of prologues and even with this one being included in the chapter it seems like it could’ve started in present-day instead of saying the previous night after the not-so-prologue prologue. Some readers might be enticed to read on but the impression I got was it felt like I was being forced to read. Like let me drop this high-action scene on you then pull out for some storytelling that happened before it and then later on retell the same scene at the moment it actually happens.

Just so we know just how unimpactful this was for me, while rereading to write this review I panicked for a good minute thinking I somehow managed to delete a chapter from my kindle because I knew that the scene I was reading happened later. My brain did not process the time change when I read it the first time and thought the book legitimately started with the introduction of an important character and then the chase that happened in real time was the only one that happened. When you put it into perspective that makes it fairly unnecessary because I didn’t even remember it existed.

That aside, from there on the book read almost fine, again the descriptions and the dialogue and the information make sense, however the POVs aren’t handled well. We are told our main character, Traveler, is following a group in an attempt to find out who is behind the danger. They’ve apparently stopped for a meeting and now he is eavesdropping from high in a tree, hoping to garner information. In the middle of this somehow we are in a Giant’s mind and he’s getting angry and we are giving all these details about him and his past and how he feels about it and, as my editor would say, how does Traveller know this? If we are in his POV watching and learning, he would not know anything about what is going on inside the Giant’s mind. It is almost as if for a good chunk the authors forgot that was the view they were writing from. A page break was needed to signify that another character was running the show or this info, which to be fair I didn’t need, should’ve been cut. Having our main character continue to spy and see anger rise and watch what unfolds while still in the view of Traveler would’ve kept the POV in line. As it is jumping into another character’s head feels odd.

I notice these things because it’s something I go back and try to fix in editing. Do I want multiple POV’s and if yes how do I do it without it seeming like head-hopping. Page breaks are definitely the best and then it allows you to dig into a character more, especially if they are important, and then another page break and we can go back into the other character’s head. The other thing here is that you can spend more time with one character without readers feeling like you left the other one behind as you have made it very clear they’re there, they are watching, but for storytelling purposes their viewpoint isn’t going to sell what you want readers to know right now. As it stands its head jump. And coming into a page break later saying Traveler had heard enough, without sticking in his head beforehand, and on top of that dropping his own reactions to what was going on to solidify he is still listening doesn’t really fix that so as it stands it doesn’t read like he’s listening.

The next thing is how it’s too dark for Traveler to see a branch when he is climbing down the tree, however, he isn’t afraid of running through the woods in the dark because his race has good night vision. I’m not even going to touch this but let’s just say eye-rolls were had. Beyond that, even though I did have some issues with the chase after the tree branch incident, it was fun fun fun. Like so much fun. This is why the not-so-prologue prologue didn’t even register in my brain because when the scene came back in real time it was good enough to leave a lasting impression that totally overshadowed the intro that sent me into a panic thinking I could somehow magically delete a chapter from a purchased book.

After this is where the story starts to slowly unravel in not-so-good ways for me. Again written well but, meh. It’s the usual fair. Guy secretly in love with queen, is also the head of the guard, and decides, in the middle of battle that deserting the king while the palace is about to be overthrown to go to her instead was the best choice cause… Love. Ugh. My issue here is that he could’ve stayed with the king. The king still could’ve died, and even if he missed the death of the queen the baby would still be there. A big dramatic goodbye and how he was so distraught he couldn’t have been there and promised to raise the boy as his own and all that would’ve been just as impactful and both she and her husband still would be dead. It’s just hard to get on board with the leader of the guard, abandoning his post for this. It just breathes the type of hero/true love tropes that are not my favourite things to read and seemed like an easy way to set up how the prince ended up with Jacoby, should’ve said his name earlier but there it is. Might fix in edits if I don’t, you’ll know.

The problem here is that he’s seeing a dead queen and she is telling him danger is coming, also there is no legitimate reason for him to be paralysed to the bed but I have no real comment on that except it doesn’t make sense. On top of her warning, he is awoken by Traveler’s Raven bringing him a message. That he found the danger. So, let’s dig into this. Last we saw this guy he was escaping danger and had to call a ‘friend’ to deal with them so his totally battered self could hobble away to safety without being caught. He was in no condition to be writing stuff. And more importantly, he knows exactly who the danger is from what I have read. Why is he being so vague? Seems strange, and did he get to safety and get someone else to pen the letter. Because eminent doom can’t wait for him to heal. Maybe his hands are fine, but still, I’m expecting more in this letter. It seems off. More on that later. But the big issue is Jacoby doesn’t seem to treat it with the seriousness it’s worth.

A dead queen literally told him danger is coming. He is awoken from this dream with a note from a friend saying he has found the source of evil. How many more signs does one man, especially the ex-head of the guard need to take a possible magical threat and invasion seriously. I could not get on board with this at all. If things are going to be ignored they need to be less obvious but after that whole premonition with the queen and thinking back to the past scene, plus the escape scene, and knowing who Jacoby was (I love this name by the way) there is no way he could be this nonchalant about the situation.

Moving on, not really, flashback to the last time he saw Traveler, when the man said he had a clear vision and that the clouds were of insidious design. The author literally says Jacoby had seen the clouds as well and sensed malevolence on the wind. So, days before Traveler talks about something and he ignores it even though he feels it, then the dead queen says the same thing, and now a letter has arrived with more confirmation and he’s still not taking it seriously. Just business as usual. This got a whole lot of no from me. A regular human maybe, but not a trained soldier. Especially not head of the guard. He would know better.

This book refuses to tell anything in sequence first the prologue that isn’t a prologue. Then in Jacoby’s dream, then the next day he’s travelling for supplies for the inn and he thinks about his previous day with workers at the inn. Like why didn’t he read the note, and go down to the bar and have the scene happen right then and there? And just so we are clear, this is chapter three, and this has happened four times now. The opening and then Traveler thinks back, the present-day dream in which Jacoby thinks back, then after the letter Jacoby thinks back to his last meeting with Traveler, and now, instead of having the previous day’s events happen then, Jacoby is on a wagon going to get supplies and thinking back on the previous night. Some of these things could have literally happened in present day without the characters thinking back on their actions. It’s an odd way to tell a story.

And I totally forgot about the whole dive into the Giant’s past so let’s say five times, in three chapters. The point here is that after a few of these it’s like mkay, so we are going to jump ahead purely to go back again because… why? At least in this flashback we find he’s verbally saying we should be prepared for anything but it doesn’t seem half as intense as it should be. It’s extremely mellow. I dunno. This is why I said what I said above. That he doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously. It’s more like we should just be prepared for whatever and that’s that. Jacoby says we should trust him but then he’s all I’m just going to go get supplies like I always do, and it is a months journey to do so. This all breathes not taking it seriously. A month is a long time. And most importantly, the lady elf is feeling fear and panic, and trying to fight back tears and stuff, when all that has been said is danger is coming. They don’t even know what at this point and she’s almost ready to have a nervous breakdown and cry. Also it head hops into her brain to describe all this instead of sticking in Jacoby’s POV. Then, we are back to the present-day journey on the cart.

I am not a fan of inherently helpless women. And so far in this book the queen was used to produce the prince and be Jacoby’s love interest so he would be the reason the king died, and the next woman is used to be instantly terrified and helpless at the slightest mention of danger. I dunno, like as writers we can do better but so far only the men seem to have any sort of spunk in this story and the female presence is not that great.

The journey dips into another POV with no break. It says Jacoby almost missed someone, which means he did in fact not miss him and saw him. On top of that, it immediately dips into what the someone he almost missed is thinking and not sticking inside Jacoby’s head. Then, as a trained soldier, he ducks avoiding an arrow as it whizzes over his head, investigates and decides he might be going mad. He’s a trained soldier. And again, ex-head of the guard, he should know he did see something, and there is no way he wouldn’t notice an arrow narrowly missing killing him even if he couldn’t find it afterwards. So far, my entire opinion of Jacoby is that he’s supposed to be soldier material but insists on ignoring his instincts and just playing it safe. Nothing about him makes sense so far.

Back to the inn, one of the previously mentioned characters, a hobbit, gets another message from the raven. This one specifically says giants, orcs and goblins are coming. This is where I’m really starting to be stressed by the weird timelines and sequencing of the book. So, putting the pieces together, it’s obvious the first letter came when Traveler set out before he contacted the enemy days earlier. The author did not say this when the first raven arrived. That it was at the initial start of the journey. It does however confirm what I said. There was no way after what he had seen and heard he wouldn’t express this in the first letter. This is of course true because he didn’t know then. So here we are now in present-day without readers ever knowing that the story had travelled into the past before the sequence in the entire first chapter. So, all of chapter two is not present day.

Also, I have no idea how much time has passed between the last chapter and this one. A week? A day? Is it the very night that Jacoby left? If so then it really changes things because the letters would be too close together, it would have to have been a week or so between each. So timelines are a real thing here when trying to sort out how the plot is moving forward and at what pace. And, most importantly, after hearing the contents of this letter the elf cries. It’s only three sentences. Three sentences. And she is bawling. I just can’t.

Then he’s holding her hand and comforting her and so on and I’m like is this really the only role for the only visible woman in the book. The queen died, the wet nurse for the prince only lived a few years outside the palace after they fled. And now the only one still alive and breathing panics at the idea of danger and is now needing to be consoled after spontaneously crying with this second letter. Then it devolves into this hobbit character checking her out as she walks away and saying how she’s evolved into a beautiful woman. Is this really how we are writing women? It would be the biggest lie ever if I said I didn’t want to stop right then and there but, despite everything I’ve said so far, this book is written well. Like really well. It’s just a technical nightmare, which happens here too. Instead of moving forward again, we get backstory on the hobbit which slows the situation down, and makes no sense because, he was kidnapped and trained by the very people who Jacoby became head of the guard for. Why would he have any inclination at all to be his friend and when he finds out about the prince being there more worms will open up. Like these very soldiers killed his mother and then forced him, at age 17 now so a full-ass man to become a warrior. Definitely not young and impressionable enough to forget they kidnapped and killed his mother so… there’s some serious plot issues with this one.

It doesn’t end there though. It keeps on going even further into his descent into drinking and hopelessness, still not a teeny bit of anger toward his captors who killed his mom and forced him into training. Then he reconnects with Jacoby and finally, the story gets back to present day at the inn. When I say I skimmed this entire section the first time, and even some of the second time, and even now for the review I am struggling to read it. It literary feels like back story just cause the authors could and I’m like waiting for us to get to the point of him taking action on the letter. Lost interest way fast and again this idea of starting today and going back in time to reveal things that might matter, in this case it did not have anything to do with the present-day doom, it was all back story, but this style of writing is really slowing down the pace of this story.

Then he gives a boy a task to go into another city, by the way this boy’s speech patterns are he literally seems like a kid, Nathaniel is 17 but the way this other kid gets excited about an important job is giving me ten-year-old vibes. The hobbit even says ‘Gods help him’ the way you would do in a shaking your head moment as he lives. Why would he entrust someone with that level of maturity with an important task? Weren’t there other, well, adultier men he could’ve used? Seemed strange.

But, the next chapter is late afternoon and not like a day or more. Wherever he was going was a half a day trip over and back. So having not returned the hobbit packs his horse to go get the lad and the elf is all “where are you going,” a reasonable question but when he turns this woman is crying… again. Like he’s just saddling his horse to go make sure the kid is safe and she is merely asking about it. Why is she immediately crying? How is this her go-to for everything? On another not she says he might be picking daisies on the way home. If he is that kind of aloof boy why would the hobbit trust him with delivering such an important thing and, again, why is she crying?

At this point, I gave up. Wimpy whiney female characters who only respond in such helpless dramatic ways, even before real danger has happened, are by far my least favourite female stereotype in hero novels. I just said right then and there, especially since she seems like a main character that I wasn’t willing to put up with that. I also wasn’t willing to deal with an entire novel being told with characters doing things like ‘he remembered the conversation he had last night’ and constantly telling the story after things had been done instead of just letting them happen in real-time. And after the hobbit’s massive backstory that slowed the plot way down, and an even smaller dive when the giant POV head jump happened, I wasn’t willing to deal with the story slowing down again for every new character we are introduced to instead just allowing us to take them at face value and learning about them as the story moved forward. Then there are all the other oddities I already mentioned. It was just too much for me to reasonably continue.

And lastly, the book is called the prince of Tabor and the prince, Nathaniel, has had zero page time. I haven’t seen him interact with any of the cast and if the book is named after him surely developing him by showing him interact with all the characters so far would set the tone for whatever role he has to play in the book. And I really wanted to be like, three stars even though I couldn’t finish it but ultimately even with good writing, all the plot choices made the book feel awkward. The flow was off, and it was shaping up to be an all-male hero fantasy as two of the women so far had died and one is, for lack of a better word, just useless so far as she cries and panics in every situation and needs the men to calm her down.

I’ll give it a two-star bump just because the villain seems like he’ll be badass and the first chapter was a lot of fun to read but there were too many things that didn’t fit about this one for me to continue reading it or give it three stars or above. What I can say, however, is that if you are a fan of epic fantasy, and evil mages, and dwarfs and orcs and a prince who doesn’t know he’s a prince… read this book. It checks all the boxes and there’s a strong chance you might like it. If the think back to tell the story style doesn’t slow down the story for you, and you’re really into details just because the author can, then this book is for you. Unfortunately, all of these things just slowed me down and pulled me out of the story and I simply couldn’t finish it.

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