Thursday, August 6, 2015

Disenchanted, by Robert Kroese

This week I'm reviewing Disenchanted, a novel that was originally published in serial form on Amazon, but I became aware of it through a weekly deal and purchased it as a complete novel. Disenchanted is described as a humorous fantasy novel in the same vein as The Princess Bride with a somewhat snarky narration, a subversion of usual tropes in fantasy novels, while at the same time utilizing them. I also felt that this book was trying, in some ways, to channel an element of Terry Pratchett as well, but that may just be my own impression as a relentless Pratchett fan. Although there are some humorous bits to this book, by the end I just felt like it didn't work. I almost feel like the author got tired towards the end and wanted to wrap everything up as quickly as possible. It's not a bad book, but it's not terribly good either.

Plot-wise this book follows the adventures of King Boric the Implacable, owner of one of seven magical swords famed throughout the Six Kingdoms. When King Boric dies, however, he discovers that his spirit is unable to leave behind his body, and more specifically his sword. Apparently cursed to become a wraith and serve Lord Bran, who had given Boric the sword twenty years ago, Boric fights against the curse and seeks to break it. The result is a series of misadventures that finally winds its way towards a hurried conclusion. I find myself wondering if maybe the author just ran out of steam on this project and sought to wrap it up in a conclusion before he got fed up with it. I can't really say, but I definitely get that impression.

There is a degree of humor in this novel and a few very good jokes. Some of the chapters also come with footnotes, very akin to The Princess Bride or one of Pratchett's works, but more often than not the jokes unfortunately fall flat. I almost feel like the author is trying to copy the style of other humor-fantasy writers with his own slightly crasser version of humor, but it just doesn't seem to work. I feel like the author's groping towards his own voice and there's elements of something that could become very well-developed with practice, but it just isn't quite there yet. From what research I've been able to find, it seems like the author has only written a few books so far, so this could very easily be a case of Kroese still getting his feet under him as an author. I don't know if I'll be interested in the planned sequels to this novel, but if I can remember I'm willing to give them a shot.

Overall the book isn't awful, it has a lot of ideas and a lot of potential (and some funny jokes), it just is lacking in several places and the author has room for improvement. Hopefully as he writes more books he'll be able to find his own voice as an author and create his own brand of funny, interesting novels, but Disenchanted is still pretty rough around the edges.

- Kalpar

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