"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

02 September 2012

Review: Flag of Bones - Elle Pepper

 Twice brought to hang at "Pirate's Cove" Captain Jalen Shenn, Captain of the Free Boards Dragon Wynd, finds himself driven by a promise made twenty years before to take a figure to a place where even those who fly the black flag fear to go.

With the Empire chasing him from every friendly port, his most trusted crewman turned traitor to his boards, and the mystery of his wife's location still plaguing him, Jalen must find the truth of why the Shenn name is so feared that they would wage war for the very mention of it.

With nothing left and no place left to turn but Deep Waters, Jalen is faced with a choice, Defy the Empire and fly the black flag, becoming the man the Empire fears him to be, or hide under the Blue flag of Freehold and never find the reason for this war that has plagued him all his life.

And when everything is on the line Jalen will make a choice that will shape history for hundreds of years to come.

My Review of Flag of Bones (2/5):

Flag of Bones was given to me by the author to review and I feel that I’ve given it an honest review centred solely on my own opinion.

This book had so much promise and as I finished it I felt quite disappointed that it hadn’t lived up to my expectations at all. I was expecting a swashbuckling tale filled with adventure and excitement but was instead confronted with a disorganised narrative, jam packed with too much unexplained information, confusing language and characters who just weren’t fleshed out enough. I believe that in general it had the potential for a strong and solid storyline and there was enough occurring throughout to possibly hold my attention and exert excitement but it sadly just didn’t work its magic on me and the story fell flat when it desperately needed to hold my attention. The story had potential like I stated earlier with a concoction of a potential mutiny, crossings with fantastical beasts and pursuits by the relentless Empire, but its confusing almost stilted narrative created a puzzling storyline, where I found myself re-reading sentences, trying to engage with the tale again.

I thought that the use of language within the novel suited the style of the story in general and the use of pirate language did add a strong authentic feel to the tale and helped emphasise the plot. Sadly, the language confused me slightly and had me lost at parts in the story so much that I couldn’t keep up with the story ruining the reading experience. Despite the confusion I did appreciate the authentic feel of the story and believe that it suited the tale. The use of pirate jargon in the story emphasised the setting, the characters and the plot, completing the whole style of the tale and giving it an extra layer of authenticity. I wish that some of the archaic pirate jargon was explained more, and truly believe that if this was the case I could have immersed myself a lot more in the story, followed what was going on and enjoyed it more than I did. The use of certain words for numerous different things such as “boards” was slightly confusing and such things just made the whole experience of reading the story a little jumbled and puzzling. Great use of language and narrative by the author but lack of explanation and a lot of confusion just weakened the plot in general.

I also appreciated the world building that obviously went into the story and I felt that adding rules and codes, a history and religions helped to add layers of depth to a short tale. I applaud the author for her attention to detail and attempts at fleshing out a short story. Despite the added bonus of these authentic extras I did think the whole tale a confusing, almost disorganised narrative. The length of the story really didn’t help the narrative and a longer story may have resulted in rules, religions and languages being explained in more depth creating an easier, less confusing narrative. There was plenty of possibly exciting events thrown into the story; a dark and mysterious opening, tense moments of mutiny, encounters with strange creatures and a mystery surrounding the wife of Captain Shenn, but all of these potential moments of excitement just didn’t live up to my expectation. One of the things I enjoyed was the character of Captain Jalen Shenn, a mysterious and deadly pirate tortured by not knowing where his wife resides, running from the Empire and dealing with disloyal crewmen. I wish the length of the story was longer as I feel that if this was the case his character and his past could have been revealed in more detail.

I would urge readers who are generally interested in similar books to give this book a chance. I haven’t read many books similar to this one and mainly enjoy traditional fantasy, but the blurb attracted me to the book and although I was disappointed in the tale as a whole the subject matter did interest me. It had potential, lots of it but I was left dissatisfied with the short story, its weak characters and confusing narrative. Sadly this book just wasn’t my kind of book but I hope others interested in the blurb and the subject matter of the story, give it a go because if you’re interested in similar books then this is the short story for you. 

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