Monday, March 18, 2013

CBR V Review #17: Scriber by Ben S Dobson

Scriber is a book that sneaks up on you.  I borrowed this for free from the Kindle Lending Library (thank you Amazon Prime!) and I always approach those books with a certain amount of hesitation.  Stuff being offered for free can be pretty hit or miss.  The first quarter of this book, I was pretty sure I had found a miss here.  Still, I powered through and was rewarded with a thoroughly engaging story and a climax that truly got to me.

Scriber tells the story of Dennon Lark, a disgraced scholar hiding away in a tiny town, hoping to be forgotten, buried in his own cowardice.  Soon, a group of rebels attacks the town, and his quiet life is disrupted as he is pulled into a conflict he wants no part in.  His travels begin with niece to the king, warrior Bryndine Errynson, and her troupe of disrespected female soldiers - a journey that will take them throughout the kingdom to piece together a lost history and try to save them all.

When I say this book had a slow burn, I mean it.  It also didn't help that I moved onto this directly from Kingkiller Chronicles, with which it shares some similarities.  The characters start out painted in very broad strokes, and Dennon begins the story as one of the least likeable leading men I've read in awhile.  He's whiny and cowardly, and I was more than content with the idea of someone killing him off.  However, he grows, and you learn more of why he is the way he is.  More importantly, however, is the gradual introduction and development of the women he travels with, especially Bryndine.  These are characters you want a series about.  I'd read the tales and travels of Bryndine's Company.  You get very attached to these women, and to the incredible warrior who leads them.  I have no idea if Dobson has read Game of Thrones, but I'm hedging my bets that he has, and that Bryndine owes a lot to Brienne from that series.  They are both women of enormous stature, with incredible fighting skills, masuline features, and short cropped blonde hair.  They both have trouble finding any respect for their skills in societies that expect only men to possess them.  I saw Gwendolyn Christie in my head as Bryndine for the whole of the book, which is not an insult, merely an observation.

If you had told me in the early chapters that by the end I would be weeping in public, I would have thought you crazy.  Nevertheless, this is what occurred.  It's a solid piece of fantasy writing, and one I would encourage you to tough out.  It's worth the effort.

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