The Broken Crown by Michelle West
I listened to 19 hours (60%) of the new audio version of Michelle West’s The Broken Crown before giving up. The Broken Crown (1997) is the first novel in West’s SUN SWORD series which contains six books that add up to a whopping 4,803 pages. After getting through 458 of these pages and feeling absolutely nothing, I was dreading the remaining 4,345. I decided to quit.
Many readers love long, slow, drawn-out fantasy epics. I used to, but the older I get, the less patience I have for them. I’ll enjoy them if the plot moves at a decent clip, if there are characters that I like and care about, if the world and magic system are fascinating, and if the writing style is appealing.
Unfortunately, The Broken Crown didn’t check any of these boxes for me. It was dark, slow, heavy, and ponderous. There are way too many characters (more than 80), it’s hard to keep them separate in my mind, and I couldn’t find even one that I cared about. The writing is dense — just as heavy and ponderous as the plot. To put it bluntly, it’s a slog.
This is a shame because there are some things I liked about the story such as the elaborate world and the strong female characters who have agency even though they’re often in traditional female roles in a society that doesn’t value them.
Readers who enjoy sprawling epic fantasies with lot of political intrigue and strong female characters may want to give The Broken Crown a try. It wasn’t for me, but please let me know if you liked it, and why.
If you choose to read The Broken Crown, I recommend the new audio version that was recently published by Tantor Audio. It’s nicely narrated by Eva Wilhelm and it’s 31.5 hours long!
You rarely have a DNF, Kat.
I have never read this, but I wonder whether such books are actually far better in physical than audio versions. I can skim-read through “dense” books reasonably happily, but I have never got the hang of ‘skim-listening’ and just end up tuning out completely and giving up.
Stuart, I do have a method for skimming audiobooks — I just increase the playback rate. But I figure that if I have to skim a book, it’s not good enough.
I never got the hang of that approach – maybe I need to try it again.
I’m reading this series right now. I can’t imagine being able to get through it on audio. Yes it’s dense and keeping track of characters,without a character list, would be difficult. I am loving it. It requires strong focus and there is not constant action, but the sense of dread and hope builds many times to a head within each book. The women are strong, competent and powerful, even when subjugated. It’s a great read.
Hi Kathryn, I got a character list out of the print book (could see it in the Kindle version online) and that helped a lot, but the story was too slow for me.
I’m glad you like it. I agree about the strong women.