If you’ve not yet seen my book you can find it here on this blog free to read.
Let’s look at the positives, which will take much less explaining than the negative. Obviously the fact that I finished it was a great start, most people don’t finish their books, and though it’s not published, I’m more than content to just leave it online here for people to enjoy.
From my perspective it’s an adventure story that’s mildly interesting to read, but nothing you’d recommend. It was a start, a decent first attempt of a book. It had a message, kind of conveyed it but not really. I also quite liked the characters.
There are two main problems with the book in my opinion, the first is how long it takes for the group to reach the tournament in the first place, and the second being that the tournament itself could have been more interesting.
Let’s take a look at the very start, where Kil is taken from his village due to a mistake that wasn’t really his fault. This opening was kind of inspired and brought on by an event that happened to me, where during my computer science mock exam all of my progress was deleted due to a word error that wasn’t my fault.
I wanted to try and intensify that feeling through this book. If that had happened in my actual exam then my life would likely be quite different now, in terms of university and stuff so I’d like to think that this does the same.
Then comes the books biggest failure, which is when Rob and Kil are kept as a slave. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s not interesting, but just a rather bad representation of slavery. The characters being slaves themselves has very little consequences overall and I feel like that’s disrespectful to the genuine struggle slaves faced.
Unfortunately this kind of had to happen. T’he society of Withwood was supposed to resemble a very dangerous cult, and that was brought across quite well. The issue was why did I need it to be about cults? The opening is quite short, and focuses on Withwood very little and it feels like an extra detail tossed in there without really focusing on the subject properly.
I would have liked to make it more obvious that it was a cult, and highlight more problems with it, instead of implying them.
The inspiration for Withwood village was from the anime shin sekai yori, where kids are taken and people are made to forget them. It was quite sad. I feel like I would have liked to replicate them more.
Then theirs the biggest problem of the book which is Maron’s highly inconsistent character. She is supposed to be a depressed, sad, alcoholic, with a lot of personal problems yet comes across as mostly normal. I would rather have just made her a sad person who relied on alcohol as a crutch instead.
The deaths that she causes are mostly forgotten, until the very end of the book as well, and even then it’s not actually addressed.
This is just a warning now, this may spoil events not just in this book, but in future books I still have yet to write. The ending is left ambiguous, and details are filled in later. If you also read The Stone of The Conqueror (which is very short) then you should be able to figure out what happens.
The encounter with the bandits in the forest seem like a far detour from where the story was going. They just randomly encounter bandits. The idea is that you figure out what the bandits are doing, and what their purpose is to the rest of the story, but I think it can be difficult to neglect.
If you were really attentive while reading, you may have had the thought that Rob, one of the four main characters, was greatly similar to what the bandits described as their leader. He was with a group of other people at the start but they all died except for him.
What I’m trying to get across is that Rob is nowhere near as trustworthy as I make him come across. I should have given more reasons to doubt him.
The reason why we never got the story from Rob’s perspective was that his story would be very different indeed, and potentially more interesting. But if the book was from Rob’s perspective it would have been pointless, more entertaining but ultimately pointless.
The key question to ask yourself as you read this book is whether or not the conspiracy is real, because discovering which one it is really changes the meaning of the book.
As I wanted to show people who were in full belief of the conspiracy, it was quite difficult to fit in any information to make them doubt it. I didn’t like that a person reading the book could reasonably conclude that the conspiracy itself was real. It wasn’t the point of the book.
The abrupt ending was also quite sudden and dramtic I felt, and rather unearned, and it came as a consequence of not really having a lot to do in the tournament.
They go around fighting, following people, researching to see if the conspiracy was real, and making small minor plans. But it doesn’t really feel like a lot.
I feel like they could have spent longer there in the tournament, and maybe interacted with much more people. It’s the reason for this not being fleshed out enough that I feel the ending was unearned.
By the end of the book I wanted it to be very obvious that the main characters were in fact the villains. They needed to do more bad things. I wanted them to start as good people, and slowly turn them into villains through the scapegoat of a conspiracy. I feel like I didn’t do it effectively enough.
Characterising the villains would be a good way to do this. People tend to not care when they have no attachment to a villain if they die, so the death is less impactful. Say there was a way to avoid this, and genuinely turn them into cutthroats I feel that could have worked much better.
The point of the book was supposed to be against everything that the characters did, and I don’t know if I did a good enough job of that because it’s too easy for them to justify it. I needed to work on that more.
So there are my thoughts on the book. What did you think? This isn’t the end, there is another book that is about 2/3 done which will start releasing soon. Look forward to it! I’m much happier with this new one.