Monday, September 28, 2009

'The Edge of the World' - Part 2

I finished reading Kevin J. Anderson's novel 'The Edge of the World' last night. My initial assumptions toward this piece of fiction were correct. In fact, it's quite shocking that something so amateurish could have gone to print.

The writing itself is problematic. The descriptions of character and setting are cursory. So much of the plot centers around the city Ishalem and its burning. Though at first it seems like a vaguely interesting locale in a fantasy novel, it is quickly razed to the ground. Comically enough, Ishalem was the novel's most interesting place and it's gone within the first fifth of the book. From there, we have a war. Or, at least, Kevin J. Anderson would like us to think there is a war. Characters King Korastine and the Soldan-Shah repeatedly outdo one another with stupidity, which, unless it's intentional (and it isn't) make them seem like completely inept rulers. And the 'war' quickly becomes little more than a tit-for-tat of burning villages and killing grandmothers. Who needs death-panels when Kevin J. Anderson is so quickly willing to deliver a ship load of formulaic misunderstood bad guys to pull the plug?

Characterization is a huge problem in 'The Edge of the World'. That may be the result of the novel's third person omniscient style. Maybe Anderson had trouble keeping them all straight. There's certainly enough of them, each meeting the prerequisite silly-name requirements: Aldo, Korastine, Kiracle, Adrea, Criston. Unfortunately, as the novel progresses and begins to fall apart their voices blur together, becoming indistinct in the grey mess that is this novel.

The one point where this novel briefly shines is the journey of the Luminara as it explores the uncharted seas. Criston is probably the closest thing to a protagonist in 'The Edge of the World', the book opens and closes with him. But the brief excitement provided is not enough to keep this novel afloat. Avoid this book. Brian Ruckley's Godless World trilogy is far superior.

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