Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fabler's Legend [Book Review]

Exact cover art on my copy.
Kirt Hickman's Fabler's Legend might have one of the more banal and nonsensical tag line's I've ever read. Seriously, "All is legal in the fight against evil..." which is a phrase uttered by the most memorable character in the book. Fabler's Legend was a finalist in the New Mexico Book Awards, so there's that.

I should explain, I have a background in script writing and dabble in fiction myself. One of the basic tenets pounded into my skull through four years of film school is the idea of the Character Centered Screenplay. In fact, I studied directly under the author of that very book. So when I think of stories that capture my interest, that drag me into their depths, I think of stories where the characters pop.

A short list of examples:
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
- The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
- Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Each of those series has characters that just stick out. Especially the main characters. A scrawny bespectacled youth with a lightning shaped scar who longs for a family and stands by his friends - that's but a small description of Harry Potter. You can do the same for any of those series. The brother of a slain king who is motivated by that loss, and his creeping madness, to protect the new king (the son of his late brother) and truly unite a fractured land despite the loss of person glory and prestige - you have Dalinar Kholin from the Way of Kings. And of course, nowadays, if I were to say Tyrion Lanister... well, everyone knows who that is.

These are all strong characters.
Fabler's Legend does not have many strong characters. And the worst part of the whole story is that the Hero, Nick Mirin, is probably the least interesting, the least developed of them all. His only outstanding feature is that he is human. The most interesting two characters are Rancid and Zen. The former has the most in depth backstory, and the later develops the most through the course of the story. There are a few other characters, but I do not really want to give too much away by giving them descriptions. Which would have to be rather short.

The novel is not bad, it comes off like you are reading a DnD adventure campaign put into novel format. Event happens, battle occurs, clue is left for party to follow. Trap is seen, party avoids, eventually combat occurs, clue resolved, new clue. And so on. I've played enough DnD to see the structure.

The thing is that it was actually interesting enough that I'll probably continue the series once I've read through my backlog of books.

2.5 Stars
I really wish the characters had been more engaging, more fleshed out, more well... characterful.

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