I love reading, and as a writer I like to broaden my scope by reading outside of my comfort zone, so that I can learn more about my craft.
Book – Riddle in Stone (Riddle in Stone #1)
Author – Robert Evert
Star rating - ★★★★★
Would I read it again - Yes
Plot – imaginative, intriguing, exciting
Characters – unique, realistic, relatable, funny
Movie Potential - ★★★★★
Ease of reading – very easy to read.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
After opening up this book with high expectations (I love Dark Fantasy books), I was pleasantly surprised. I had expected something different, something unusual and a little dark, and what I found was the equivalent of a fishing hook grabbing my poor little flipper and dragging me into the depth of the sea. I totally fell into the story from page one. I was, for want of a better word, hooked from the first line. The storyteller had me intrigued and I instantly fell in love with Edmund, our MC - Main Character.
Edmund's internal dialogue was cute. Adorable. He's a complete charmer. And I'm sure he'd probably hate all the words I'm associating with his internal feelings, but I'm afraid there's no better way to say it. I really feel for him, especially when it comes to Molly, the love of his life who he can't even speak to without sparking off his most hated difficulty – his stutter.
Edmund is the not-so-typical hero. In fact, he's downright original and refreshing. Because he's ordinary. He's a normal human being you'd see walking down the street any day of the week. Short, fat, balding, with a stutter and a love of books. Could you image a more anti-hero than that? Yet it works.
I really have to say this one thing – by the end of Chapter 2, I'm little a little schoolgirl with a crush. I'm so excited about this 'adventuring' that I hated to turn off my Kindle. (But it was 1am and I was exhausted, so it really had to be done). So far, the story reminds me, in atmosphere only, of a cross between Lord of the Rings, Willow and Robin Hobb's Fareer Trilogy, with the lovely Fitz. Edmund really reminds me of Willow (from Willow duh!) and Samwise (LOTR). He's completely lovable and I also kind of liked Norb as well. He was an interesting character.
I really like the way we get to see Edmund travelling to his quest. A lot of the time, unless there's a huge event or a disaster in store, we rarely ever see people travelling to their destination. I loved the inclusion of the dog, too, Thorax. I had a little giggle over that. If this were a shape shifter story (though it might be and I just don't know it yet) I would wager that the dog was Molly or a potential friend/love interest for Edmund in the future. At the moment, I'll just have to wait and see. Lol. What I really love about Edmund and Thorax' new friendship is the companionship that Edmund's never had and his grudging acceptance of it in the beginning, and then the total reliance and comfortable feeling between them later. And do you notice how, with Thorax, his stutter isn't so bad? ;) I think that means something important. I'll keep an eye out for that later.
I absolutely agree with Edmund. On what? Well…what about the ugly princesses? They never get stories told about them. And “the Battle of Daisy Meadow”? I've never heard that one yet.
I have to admit that I'm really taking a liking to Kravel and Mr Gurding. They're funny and intriguing and nice characters to really lighten the mood. I also like Pond Scum (No, I'm not making that up) and Crazy Bastard. They're really interesting people and I have a feeling they will both be important later (I'm only at 40% at the moment) I want to find out what happens to them, as well as Edmund's new friend Vorn. I really think I've solved the riddle, but I can't be sure until I find out what it really means. Only time will tell. If Edmund just stopped being so stubborn (though I do understand why he is stubborn about it) then he's realise how simple it could be for his brain.
It's a real shame about the 'eye' incident. (I'm not giving away spoilers here.) But I have to say that the 'rat cage' is by far an excellent use of medieval torture. I've seen medieval torture used in books before, but few have the impact this one did on me. I was literally cringing, not wanting to read more. Very nicely done.
Just after halfway through, I feel like I've been transported from Lord of the Rings to the 13th Warrior (awesome film with Antonia Banderas). Edmund is getting leaner and smarter and he's at that stage where he's learning that it's kill or be killed with the goblins. I also really like that the whole 'mines' situation isn't a flash in the pan attempt to create excitement and danger; it's a real crux of the story, driving the characters forward. I hate when characters get dropped into situations that could be amazing and the idea doesn't get followed through on. So this story is a gold mine for that alone. (excuse the pun.)
I'm so glad that Pond Scum comes back into the story later. Though it's a shame Ed had to lose Vorn, Pond more than makes up for his loss. He's at least optimistic and really lightens the mood when Ed gets down. My only real question about this part of the story though (say 60-70% way through) is:
WHO IS POND? I have a feeling, possibly wrong, that he's going to be really important. He doesn't want to talk much about who he was before the goblins captured him, but he gives enough hints that I'm interested. Even if he turns out to be a regular Joe, I'm intrigued by his story. I'm also very sad about Thorax, though I won't say why. Not what I thought, but a nice addition to the story.
I loved Edith. She was so smart and a little sassy when we last saw her. I think she'll be a bigger part of Book 2. I hope. :)
I'm really impressed by Edmund. After the whole 'eye' incident, he really found his courage, even if he did falter a few times. And although I loved fat, stuttering Ed in the beginning, I also like the emaciated, barely stuttering Ed too. He never lost that charm and charisma he had, even though all he'd suffered. It's just a shame about Molly. I won't give away spoilers, but I had to say that I saw this coming. It could never have ended well but I didn't care. I wasn't annoyed or disappointed with the ending, or that it leaves the story wide open for more. (I know there is a Book 2 anyway) I look forward to getting Book 2 and having some time to read it.
Overall an excellent read. It has everything you could ever want in a good story: fantasy, torture, love, adversity, suffering, courage, mines, goblins, elves, riddles…I could go on. It's a long book, but it is well worth the read. Trust me, if you pick it up and start reading, you will find yourself sitting for hours, getting engrossed in the story, no matter what your plans are.