Across the Face of the World
by Russell Kirkpatrick
Reviewed by Ruby
In the peaceful village of Loulea, everything is normal and quiet. That is until Mahnum returns home to his wife and sons with news of the Undying Man’s plot to attack the kingdoms of Faltha. That very night his pursuers, The Lords of Fear, servants of the Undying Man, find him and kidnap him and his wife Indrett. Now Leith and Hal, their sons, along with the leader of the village, the Haufuth (who gets no other name but his title throughout the entire book), Kurr, the grumpy old farmer and Stella, the love of Leith’s young life, who also could care less about him, all leave their safe home to find Mahnum and Indrett and to get the news of the invasion to Instruere; where the ambassadors of the 16 kingdoms meet and negotiate.
On the way they meet up with many other characters who join them on their quest for various reasons, but none are prepared for the near impossible task that they have put forth on to themselves…or that’s what the author is telling us. I personally don’t buy it.
This book, in my opinion, is completely awful. In close to seven hundred pages I did not have a single emotional reaction to anything that happened in the story. There was nothing that made me laugh; nothing that made me cry, or even a little sad; I was never nervous for anyone’s safety; in short I could not care less. I had absolutely no emotional attachment to any of the characters. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that all the characters were almost identical. There was no differentiation between them; all their internal monologues sounded the same. They had minor things that set them apart but all their personalities were almost indistinguishable from each other.
The only thing I felt during reading this book was annoyance and most of that was directed at Stella. At first she was okay, because she was the only useful one of the Company, but the reason why she went with them was stupid (she walked in on their plans and since she’s the daughter of the town gossip she can’t be trusted to keep her mouth shut so they took her along). On top of that, all she could care about was not wanting to marry some bully her parents picked out for her. Are you freaking kidding me!?! They travelled for weeks to practically the other side of the world to rescue people, there are people dying around her, there’s the possibility a war could break out and she’s worried that when she gets back she’ll have to marry some jerk!? She even has the thought ‘maybe he’ll go off and die in the war and then I won’t have to marry him’. I mean come on! She can’t be that shallow can she?
To add to my annoyance, this book dragged endlessly. It took something like five chapters before anything actually happened and then it took another five hundred pages before they caught up with the Lords of Fear. And nothing happened in those pages. They just travelled and told long pointless stories. There was no character development and no ‘impossible tasks’ for them to overcome. They walked and were hungry; that was their challenge. And every time they got blue and wanted to give up someone showed up to randomly help them for absolutely no reason. If things went ‘wrong’ they barely had to do anything to set them right. Everything was so ridiculous easy.
There is no way I am reading anymore of this series. Even the style of the author bothered me. Okay… rant over.
I agree with my sister that one of the book’s biggest faults is that lack of emotional connection to either the characters or their circumstances. I didn’t care about any of their struggles, fears or dreams; they were just names on a page.
The whole setup of the ‘journey’ was a little tedious. They just kept collecting and losing people. At some point it became a little ridiculous.
My sister thought that the main characters’ mission seemed easy. I didn’t really have that problem, but I thought it lacked urgency. They were supposedly worried that the enemy would execute their prisoners. Plus there was the whole thing about an invasion. But did that translate into moving at a quicker pace? No. They just mosey along, collecting more people who hinder their progress. At one point they even have the enemy insight but don’t chase because they are all tired. It’s stupid.
I gave up at some point and just skimmed my way through the rest of the book.
For me, this book isn’t an ‘F’ because books I rate F usually make me angry in some way. This book just bored me.