Monday, January 30

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

A sequel to Breath ofAngel, Karyn Henley continues the Angelaeon Circle series with Eye of the Sword.  Last year, I reviewed Breath of Angel for Waterbrook Press and some of you may remember that I didn’t like it.  One of the biggest things going against it (for me) was that its target audience seemed to be teenage girls and I had trouble connecting to the story.  I had no intention of reading the following books.  When I ordered this book, I failed to look beyond the title and the cover, and didn’t realize that this was the sequel.  It looked more like a guy-oriented medieval fantasy story.  It wasn’t until I received it that I realized the mistake I made.  I kept my expectations quite low for this story.

Interestingly, many parts of Eye of the Sword felt much different than Breath of Angel.  The story focuses on Trevin, instead of Melaia, as he aids her and the king in finding two of the three lost harps, which will allow them to bring back the stairway to heaven.  He also needs to act soon.  The king has pledged Melaia to the Dregmoorian prince, a rather unsavory character, and Trevin hopes his quest will help him prove the prince to be unfit for such an honor.  There’s also the little matter that Trevin and Melaia obviously have feelings for each other.

The tonal shift was first big difference I noticed with Eye of the Sword.  By having Trevin be the lead in this entry, Henley seems to be targeting the book more towards boys in their early teens.  I’m sure many who enjoyed the first book will continue to enjoy this one, but retargeting the audience felt jarring.  However, I also found Trevin easier to relate to than Melaia.

The world building is also furthered a bit more.  In Breath of Angel I didn’t feel as if I got a good feel for the setting, and I think Eye of the Sword focuses this a bit more.  Not a lot, but there did seem to be some improvement.  However, there also seem to be some missteps in world building.  In an attempt to create an expansive world, Henley has created a multitude of different types of being.  The beginning of the book features descriptions of the different types of ‘heavenly beings.’  There are quite a few, and it can be rather hard to keep track of who’s who, especially when some of the characters do not regularly appear.  Many times I had to flip back to the list of characters at the beginning to orient myself.  I don’t mind grand world building, but so far this series hasn’t shown the depth to justify what’s been presented.

Also, there were times when plot points felt awkward.  In one scene a character is charged in the death of a prince.  This character’s fate is to be decided by a group of eight people.  If guilty, he’ll be hung.  However, the jury is split.  It is then revealed that the King and Queen have a way of learning someone’s true character, and it’s not all that difficult.  If his character is shown to be true, they’ll know he’s innocent.  This revelation upset me.  I just spent many pages watching the character grow nervous about his trial, especially since everything seemed stacked against him.  I even began to wonder what would happen.  When I discovered there was a foolproof way to determine his innocence, I couldn’t understand why the decision was ever put to a jury.  Why not go straight to determining his character?  What if the jury found him guilty, but he was innocent?  They would’ve hung him?   The prince is dead!  Wouldn’t the king and queen want to completely sure the murderer was brought to justice?  To know that, they’d have to one hundred percent sure they had the right person!

Other parts of the book seemed to be problematic, though to a lesser degree.  Events happen in such rapid succession, that at times it was hard to remember which characters were present and which weren’t.  Motivations seemed weak as well, and some characters made decisions which made little to no sense, and the only result was that it frustrated Trevin’s journey.  Sure, the hero is going to face challenges, but many of the challenges seemed forced.

That said, Eye of the Sword does carry over some of the few positives I found in Breath of Angel.  Once, the pace is fast.  There weren’t many moments that lagged, and it always seemed to be building towards the end.  Also, the story didn’t seem cheesy.  Though from a Christian publisher, the spiritual elements in the story didn’t feel forced.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can find chapter one here.

2/5 stars

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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