Thursday, January 19, 2012

DNF Early Review - Touchstone (Glass Thorns, Book 1) by Melanie Rawn (2/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 28, 2012
ISBN: 978-0765323620
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Glass Thorn Series
Source: ARC though Amazon Vine
Rating: 2/5 stars

This book is the first in a new series by Rawn called the Glass Thorns. I loved Rawn's Dragon Prince series and was excited to see what she's been up to all these years. Well I was sorely disappointed. I read the first 120 pages of this book and finally just gave up. The beginning is confusing and there is no real goal driving the plot forward.

Cayden Silversun is trying to put together a troupe of players that will rise to the top and eventually end up on the Royal play circuit. He ends up bringing together a group of diverse individuals (both in temperament and race) and starts having some success at creating really awesome plays. Then the group is invited to partake in a contest to see if they can stand up against other troupes.

I don't really even want to spend time writing a review for this book; I was just so disappointed in it. The beginning of the book throws a ton of terms at the reader; each of which is a special part that a member of the troupe needs to perform to make the show a convincing whole. They each use special magical tools that have strange names to do this. I tried to just go with it, but for the first fifty pages or so I had no idea what was going on.

Cayden comes off as a weak character; he is easily swayed and constantly struggling to keep his troupe under control. I found him uninspiring. Some of the other players are equally obnoxious; for example Mieka who is the new member to the troupe is very annoying and likes to drink a lot...but because he is very good at what he does is tolerated by the rest of the troupe. None of the characters jumped out as especially easy to relate to or interesting.

The other big problems are the world and the plot; the characters are a complex mish-mash of different types of Elven heritage, Trolls, and numerous other races that are never very well explained. The plot doesn't have much to drive it which prevents the story from having any urgency. Yes, they want to win this contest...but that is pretty much the only thing driving the plot. Most of the plot deals with the characters internal struggles to balance winning with their own beliefs and principles. So most of the plot is driven by the characters' internal struggle...and I didn't like the characters, so I kind of didn't care about their problems all that much either.

It is an interesting idea for a story and if there had been a little glossary at the front of the book explaining all the foreign terms the whole thing would have been much less painful to read. If the troupe were fighting against some other treachery outside of their own internal struggles it would have made the story more engaging.

I finally put it aside after struggling through the first 120 pages over the course of three days. I still couldn't figure out the point to the story.

Overall I really disliked this book. It was hard to read and pointless. I can't in good conscious recommend this book to any of Rawn's fans; stick with her earlier works.

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