Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Bariwon Books 1 & 2 by J. Lloyd Morgan.

In full disclosure I won book two (The Waxing Moon) in a Goodreads giveaway.

The Hidden Sun (book 1)

Synopsis (from back of book): A faraway kingdom.

A beautiful princess.

A courageous hero.

A ruthless villain.

An impossible choice.

Eliana and Rinan are in love. However, she is destined to become queen of Bariwon, obligated to marry the victor of a competition called the Shoginoc, while Rinan, her royal guardian, is forbidden to marry. Normally they could renounce their titles to be together, but these are not normal times. Abrecan, the malevolent governor of Erd, is determined to win the Shoginoc, thereby placing his easily manipulated son Daimh on Bariwon’s throne. Can Eliana and Rinan find a way to be together without jeopardizing the peace they are so desperately trying to protect?

Richi's Review
Personally I enjoy fantasy books, I don’t mind some romance in them, but I don’t normally read romance novels set in a fantasy world. As the second book in the series, the one that I won, was described as “With a touch of romance, this action-adventure story is amazing” I figured that this series would be okay for me.

After the first few chapters, the romance seemed very heavy and I felt like the kid at the start of the Princess Bride.


Fortunately the story soon becomes much less of a romance novel and more of a fantasy story.

It was interesting to see the story spread across a couple of generation of characters. It was also realistic in the way it would kill off characters on both sides.

The characters are excellent, they have interesting personalities. They were a little extreme with all the good characters having only good personality traits and the evil characters only have evil ones.

I enjoyed seeing how the most evil of the characters was somewhat of a background character that would manipulate the king and run things the way he wanted. It was also realistic to see how those in power seek to have more; it reminded me or the Rise of the Empire era of the Star Wars saga.

It was nice to see from the POV of the evil characters, early on it did give a bit too much plot away, but later it became more subtle what they were planning.

As an adult reading the book I did find the story line a little predictable and unoriginal, but it was fun, exciting and interesting so this didn’t really matter. There were many tantalizing moments such as when two of the main characters kept missing each other or when the characters were investing the original Tome of Laws and we were giving little bits of it at a time.

My biggest criticism of the story was how the plot was dictated by the <i>Tome of Laws</i>. Sometimes it would help the good characters and sometimes it would harm them, but it seemed most of the story happened according to the rules of the book. Sometimes the rules didn’t make much sense or would be unrealistic and were only there to push the plot in one direction. It was especially bad at the end when it all tied up nicely because of the laws.

I enjoyed seeing how some small details, that at the time seemed insignificant, would late turn out to be a bigger part of the plot.

Overall I really enjoyed this story; it is great adventure story for all ages and could be enjoyed by both males and females. The story was exciting and very interesting although a little unoriginal in places. The characters were excellent with a number of personalities. The political planning of the evil characters to gain more power was particularly well done. The main problem was the plot being run by the rules in the Tome of Laws, rules that often seemed to have been written just to steer the plot in a certain direction.

 rating: ****

The Waxing Moon (book 2)

Synopsis (from back of book): A faraway kingdom. A brave Warrior. An unexpected danger. An ancient secret. A desperate plan. Fear is running rampant in Bariwon. The people of a small village near the northern mountains have vanished. Newly commissioned royal guardian Snapdragon is sent with a scouting party to investigate. His responsibility is to protect the non-soldiers, including Seraphina, a stunning young nursemaid. When the party arrives, they make a shocking discovery. During the chaos that follows, Snapdragon discovers his feelings toward Seraphina are more than protective. Soon, he is forced to make difficult choices that will impact the future of everyone in Bariwon. 

Richi's Review:
The characters are excellent, the main ones from the first book play only a small role in this one, but the new characters are so well written I didn’t really miss the original cast. 

I found the new main good character, Snapdragon, to be more realistic than those in the first book; they were a little too good and without negative traits. Snapdragon starts off the book with some flaws, he is quick to anger, he is impulsive and doesn’t think things through, he also feels overshadowed by his family and annoyed by anyone who he feels treat him different because of his relatives. Snapdragon goes through quite a development through the story; it is a natural progression with him slowly changing with the events of the book.

The evil cast is also stronger in this book; some of them are more subtle in this book. Merton was very well done, with that perfect blend of appearing to be friendly with undertones of caring only for himself. The bad guys from that last book are back, but their planning from prison makes them more interesting rather than out and out evil.

The story was more original in this book, and the twists at the end are more surprising. This book was also very good and putting in small details that would later become important parts of the plot.

The pacing in the book is excellent, enough time is spent describing things to visualise the world and follow the story, but it doesn’t dwell on things and moves on fast enough to keep things fresh and interesting.

My biggest criticism with the first book was the overuse of the Tome of Laws to dictate the plot, I was pleased to see that it had a smaller role in this book and the plot shaped itself more naturally.

Overall I thought this was an excellent book, the story, characters and writing are stronger than they were in the first book, if you enjoyed that then you will enjoy this one too.

rating: **** 1/2

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