Sword of Change: Seek your quarters ’cause these books are dull

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSword of Change, Devlin's Luck, Devlin's Honor, Devlin's Justice reviewSWORD OF CHANGE by Patricia Bray

Devlin is a tortured soul. He wants to die, so he becomes his country’s Chosen One because it pays a fortune (which he can send to his brother’s widow) and it’s certainly deadly.

Sounds exciting, but don’t bother putting on your blood pressure cuff, because it wasn’t.

Devlin’s sure he’s going to die during the initiation ceremony (actually, it was me who nearly died of boredom), but, unfortunately, he doesn’t. And so we accompany him on his journeys which read more like a book report than an adventure. Descriptions are dull, people are dull (though a few had so much potential), fights are dull, monsters are dull.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAnd the language is dull. For example, Devlin doesn’t see things, he beholds them. He doesn’t talk to people, he has speech with them. He doesn’t put on clothes, he dons garments. And he doesn’t go to bed, he seeks his quarters. Here is part of the most exciting scene of the first book, when Devlin is fighting a guy who is trying to kill sleeping travelers in an inn. Devlin has just managed to wake up one of the travelers (by shouting “Awake, awake,” not “Get the hell out of the damn bed!“), so he says to the traveler (while he’s holding off the killer with an axe):

“What are you called?” Devlin asked, never taking his eyes off his opponent.
“Rise Dalkassar, and call to your companion. And arm yourself. This man tried to kill you.”

Wow. Not even an exclamation mark. How am I supposed to get excited if Devlin isn’t excited?

There are hardly any women in The Sword of Change series. I got half way through Devlin’s Honor (second book) and never met the interesting-looking woman on the cover. And speaking of that cover: Devlin lost two fingers at the end of the first book, so what are they doing still attached? Perhaps I didn’t read far enough.

Sword of Change — (2002-2004) Publisher: Devlin of Duncaer has lost everything. Only his obligations to his brother’s family keep him from seeking the oblivion that he craves. In his wanderings he arrives in the Kingdom of Jorsk, where the King has offered a generous reward to anyone who will fill the position of Chosen One, champion of the Kingdom. Devlin eagerly accepts, for the reward will provide for his brother’s family, while the position itself is a certain sentence of death.

Sword of Change, Devlin's Luck, Devlin's Honor, Devlin's JusticeSword of Change, Devlin's Luck, Devlin's Honor, Devlin's JusticeSword of Change, Devlin's Luck, Devlin's Honor, Devlin's Justice

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. It’s interesting. Years and years ago I read Devlin’s Luck when it first came out and I really enjoyed it. I think I was just so tickled by it: Here’s this guy who wants nothing more than to die, but because he was a smartass and pledged himself to the god of luck, he always gets lucky and survives. There’s something poetic about that.

    But then Honor came out quite sometime later and it was so dull I never made it through the whole thing. The idea had such promise, too. Maybe next time someone will do it as a comedy.

  2. Beth, it is a good idea for a comedy!

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