Saturday, June 16, 2012

Who Vadis, Mr Rathbone?

Inherited Danger (The Dawning of Power, #2)Inherited Danger by Brian Rathbone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I keep on thinking that there must be different ways to write a review Of late I've  been reading a slew of books, then taking a ½ day breather before moving onto the next one. Reading interests me much more than the chore of writing about what I've read and besides, I think a book's spell lasts better if you don't keep on about it too much. You want to bask and submit yourself without communicating it all. So I've been reading the first volume of trilogies, and then leaving them well alone. After a while I'll recap on what I've read before asking myself what I thought about it all in retrospect, and whether I want to read further.
One such first volume was The Call of the Herald by Brian Rathbone.

After The Call of The Herald had been finished I thought well yes, It's OKay. The question for me, of course, is will it stay in mind? And that is something which only time can tell. Sometimes you really enjoy a volume "at the time", but in retrospect it can go flat. Sometimes it does well in holding itself together as time progresses, and sometimes is grows and grows, until the ineluctable force pulls you back to itself again.

The Call of the Herald
didn't do that for me, but I did enjoy the character of Catrin, the dirty grubby farm-girl who got herself into trouble with the Mr Bumble of a teacher; a nasty boy makes trouble, and Catrin is blamed and expelled from school where she ends up getting herself into even more bother. Plastered in horse-shit, things are never Catrin's fault, but she always gets the blame. However her foot may always be planted in the squish of the barn yard, but her spirit connects with the stars when she finds that the presence of comets triggers magnificent powers within her being, slapping down injustice and righting wrongs.
In Inherited Danger, the story continues. It's taken new twists and turns and our fondness for most of the characters in the first volume usually deepens. One thing however which annoys me in Rathbone (or indeed any writer) is when a negative factor occurs at the beginning of a sentence and the problem is all wrapped up by the time it's reached the full stop. "He didn't appear happy about her outbursts, but he supported her nonetheless." is a good example of this. After all, at this stage we are used to wildcat Catrin's explosive bursts of temper, and we're used to the presence of moderating Benjin too. It could have been reworked a whole load better, I feel. Faux pas-ey things like "You're eyes are better than mine" show a sloppiness and lack of care, and I had the distinct feeling that the author was concentrating too much on the feedback from his audience and being wowed by people "liking" stuff than in attending to the material he was writing.
This, I feel, is the fork in the road for Mr Rathbone. To the left is the road which follows the fans, and to the right is the desire to devote himself to the characters in the story, and to let the narrative breathe through the pores of his skin. I feel the author has strolled a few yards into the left way and is being looked after well there. He's fed and rested and he has good company. On the other path the terrain is bleaker and full of loneliness if he selects the right-hand path, where the number of fickle fans has thinned out. This is where the ones remaining assess the situation, as they watch the writing mature and it's in this group that the author may have future supporters. The mettle of the readers is tested here, and the author needs to try to avoid sentences where a problem is introduced at the beginning and ended with the full stop. He also needs to develop some of his characters a little more before he throws them away, but I think and hope he can do it.

    Having read volumes I and II for free, I'm very happy to go to pay for the third because I want to find out what happens through the actions of our heroine  Catrin and I could easily fall in love with the newly-named spirit called Prios; whether her impulses land her back in horse manure she grew up shovelling, or if the same dung will be used to make enough bio-gas to mount her on her steed and gallop with authority into the fray remains to be seen.

NB: Under the old system, this book might have acquired four stars. Under the new it's three, and it's just about clambered up to that position. The reason for this is that it's been cast into shadow by another book, in the same genre which whispered its way onto my reading device, which towers like a colossus over my life. The more I enter its world, the more two-dimensional the present one seems to be. The Dawning of Power series needs to look to its laurels.

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