(The Lightstone: The Ninth Kingdom)
by David Zindell
Reviewed by Coral
The land of Ea is made up of many different kingdoms with a lot of unpleasant history between them; none more so than the Valeri, one people split into many countries. In the south, a man named Morjin - who may or may not be thousands of years old and the same Morjin who is the villain in every song sung on Ea - has raised an army intent on conquering the world.
Since years of hatred and war can't be easily put aside, the best chance to defeat Morjin lies in the Lightstone, an ancient stone of power, stolen and lost many years ago. Word of a quest, open to any who will join, makes its way to the Valeri country of Mesh. Valashu of Elahad, seventh son of Mesh's ruler, pledges his life to the quest. Along the way he'll meet friend and foe, and learn of a prophecy that could change not just his life but the course of the whole world.
Nothing really happened in this book. Okay, there were some minor assassination attempts, but the war and, for the most part, the quest were mainly in the background. Most of the book was spent on getting to the place where the quest would begin.
The author didn't really seem to know how to write exposition and back-story. There were a lot of places where the history of the world, Morjin's history, the Lightstone's history, were just dumped awkwardly into the middle of a scene.
The 'romance' was weirdly written as well. They met and twenty pages later, without a lot of interaction, they were epically in love.
The author seemed overly fond of variations of the phrase, "And then he told us," always leading to a large summation of dialogue he either couldn't or didn't want to write.
I really couldn't understand Valashu and, as the main character, that was kind of a problem. He doesn't like to kill, wants to find the Lightstone to bring an end to all wars, a pacifist who doesn't seem to understand why people would go to war, but then spends the book getting provoked into duels and angrily lashing out at people.
And I really hate reading books where a stranger (prince or not) walks into another country and can freely insult kings or princes without any real consequences.
Although, all in all, it wasn't even a terrible book. Just really boring. Maybe it was just because I didn't care about it that I didn't find any of the things above really annoying.