Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Heart Of The Lion & The Lion Unleashed

The first two books in a series about King Richard returning to England from the Crusades. The first book: The Heart of the Lion, has King Richard captured by Duke Leopold of Austria who trades him to King Henry of Germany in exchange for a portion of the ransom. Back in England, Queen Eleanor and Princess Joanna try to thwart Prince John in his attempt at a coup in Richard's absence. In book two: The Lion Unleashed, King Richard remains imprisoned waiting to be ransomed. Although Queen Eleanor raises the ransom, Prince John does everything he can to stop it from being paid. Princess Joanna hatches a plot to free Richard and puts it in motion.

I won these books in the Goodread's First Reads Program*. I really like this time period, and have read much about it, so I was excited to try Barlog's books. I was extremely disappointed! I found the overall plot, the character development, and the writing style unsatisfactory. In fact, the only reason I finished the first book and continued on to the second was because I won them, and I think it is in the spirit of the program to finish the books and give an honest review. Otherwise, I would not have wasted my time reading these books.

To expound lightly on my dissatisfaction, the author used a great deal of language to say very little. The  best writing tries to show, rather than tell. In addition, the number of adjectives overwhelmed the narration, making it difficult to read. There needed to be less description with more action and dialogue to further the plot. I was also wary of the lack of character development, in the first book, and would have hoped to see more depth in the second.

While the second book improves some in the overuse of adjectives and plot development, it still falls short. As a second book in a series there was a particular lack of character development. Motivations were often stereotypical. Each character appeared to be made from a template, and the author did not succeed in making me believe they were real. For example, there were various knights mentioned in the book, but there was no spectrum to their thoughts. I need more development to stay engaged in a story.

I would recommend reading different books about Prince John and Richard III.

*The Goodreads First Reads program does not require winners to give a review. Winners are encouraged to review the book, as the authors and publishers offering the books for free are trying to get the public interested in their book. If a review is given, it is not stipulated that it should be positive or negative, only an honest review.

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