Reviews of Bonds of Vengeance (2005)
Review by clong (2007-07-07)
I've been a fan of David Coe ever since I read his first book, Children of Amarid, many years ago. I've also had a chance to communicate a bit with him from time to time in setting up his discussion forum here at iblist/ibdof, and can report that he is a really nice guy as well (if you're a fan of David's books, or simply interested in learning more about him, please take a minute to stop by the forum to say hello). Despite all that, I have to admit that I have struggled a bit with his Winds of the Forelands series.
Which is not to say that I didn't find anything to like about Bonds of Vengeance. The book (like the first two in the series) is well plotted; David clearly knows where he is taking the story, and has some well prepared surprises to give us along the way. The basic set-up of the world is an intriguing one, rife for exploration. Cadel has gone from stock bad guy to perhaps the most interesting character in the saga. And the ending of this book is quite effective, bringing closure to multiple storylines, and leading two of the leading characters through life-altering epiphanies.
And yet there are several aspects of the book (and the series) that I struggle with. At a fundamental level, I think that what I struggle with is the simplicity and naivite of the entire cast of characters. Don't get me wrong--we certainly expect to see young naive characters in fantasy, characters who can grow and learn as the story (and their personal journey) progresses. But in the Forelands everyone seems simple and naive, even the people who should be grizzled veterans, old and wise in the ways of the world. They constantly make decisions for simple reasons, often with no sophisticated deliberation for the underlying issues. And in a basic way this undermines the credibility of the fundamental social structure of the Forelands. A land governed by Eandi nobles as simple as these people, advised by Quirsi advisors as simple as these people, would soon collapse into utter chaos.
Beyond that, I think this would be a stronger story if it concentrated more on two or three storylines and stuck with them. Tavis and Grinsa disappear for long stretches at a time, and beyond them Evanthya and Cadel are the only other characters that I find even mildly interesting.
Still, I certainly plan to move on to the last two books of this series and look forward to future offerings from David B. Coe.