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The Crown Conspiracy

The Crown Conspiracy - Michael J. Sullivan

Word count: about 88 000
Rating: “My apologies for doubting your sound paranoia. “

I have some problems with this book. It hasn’t been a devastating disappointment. There simply isn’t anything remarkable about it. I’d even consider giving it two stars. I’ll stick with three, because after reading prequels I already like main characters. They grew on me, so here I am. Would I continue with the series otherwise? “No” is actually a frighteningly strong possibility.

I should probably start with criticism since I won’t have much good to say anyway.

I swear this book felt longer than 88 000 words. I’d say it was 140 000, maybe even 160 000. That is a very, very bad sign. It means I got bored. It means the book didn’t pull me in. It failed at its job at the most fundamental level.

Myrton the monk – a bit too convenient character. His only purpose (especially at the beginning – I don’t know what role he’ll play in next books) is to dump on us ‘necessary’ info.

(view spoiler) Explanation Sullivan offers for that state of things isn’t much.

The best way to get the worldbuilding info is on the go. Any artificially arranged introduction of it tends to be painfully noticeable. I prefer to piece everything together as I go. Reader’s aren’t stupid. Keep some mystery to yourself and let our minds roam.

Yet here we are being crudely served the backstories of the land - to the point where Myrton tells what he knows on the subject, and at the end Hadrian comments “Well, that wasn’t very helpful”. This is a horrible way to introduce facts. Are you shitting me? Really? Could you make more of an eyesore of it? That wasn’t quite horrible enough. If you decide on introducing a knowledgeable character, don’t turn him into simple ‘facts delivery system’. Give him personality. Give him purpose. That was a really poor effort on Sullivans side and I’m not letting it go.

I’d rather have them find a book, a parchment, a magical talking stone or a ghost. Sure, Myrton grew on me. I’m a very emotional reader. I get attached to characters and then proceed to have separation anxiety. And it’s not like he’s a horrible character, but the way he’s been introduced and utilized (especially in the beginning) was awkward and unrefined.

Esrahaddon (view spoiler) – apart from a freaky name he… Damn it. Arista (the princess) should have already thought him how to speak properly, that is a first issue. I understand the desire to make him sound distinct, like he never came in contact with current world, I do, but it’s annoying. And then his help in determining king’s killer? Nigga, please. That is a very simple deduction. Don’t make smart main characters look like dumb bricks for no good reason. It didn’t make Esrahaddon look smart or useful. And yes, if you haven’t read the books you have no idea who he is. Good. I will not spoil it for you.

Story itself is shabbier than in the prequels. If I didn’t already like the characters I wouldn’t bother to continue with the series. I’d drop it after this book (probably)

Problems, big problems with structure. Pacing was off, especially at the beginning (like… first half. Or more).

Ending was clumsy. You have a battle (is that a spoiler? Nah.) It’s understandable there’ll be several viewpoints; however, Sullivan went overboard with five vantage points. FIVE. It makes everything muddy; slow – a bit like listening to stumbling drunk that tries very hard to enunciate. It shatters dynamics. Mind you, I liked all five pieces. I did. It just didn’t work out terribly well together.

Speaking of battle/fights - they’re not nearly as well written as in prequels. Which I expected, authors need practice. Nothing excruciatingly bad happened, yet all dynamic elements barely got mentioned in passing, so we ended up having a battle/fight scene with little action (am I making sense? I hope so. Otherwise the whole thing is embarrassing.)

Ending is nowhere near the ‘OMR (Oh My Rowling – yes Camila , I’m stealing it) that scene just made me want to grab a next book’. Ending was plain. There was no incentive to read more. Prequels’ endings? That was gold. That sudden surprising insight that made you go ‘HA’! That provided you with a few answers, but also new, exciting questions. I wouldn’t even comment on the ending, if it wasn’t for the awesomeness provided by the prequels.

Those were my main problems, things that come to mind straight after finishing the book. I like the idea, I like characters, but the quality of the story is nothing remarkable (as I said earlier – execution is the key word here). That wonderful world full of bad and good people? It’s not there. People outside of main plot are those gray, blurry things we never see well. Dynamics or Ryiria are here, but not that much of them… Now that I think about it I have no freaking idea what filled those pages. Where are good elements? What positive can I say about this book without referring to prequels? The answer: not much. I’m so happy I got to meet most of the characters earlier; otherwise I probably wouldn’t care about any of it.

Good things?
- Hadrian and Royce being bad-ass
- Royce’s cleverness
- Hadrian trying to do the moral thing and his justifications for doing it he has to present Royce with
- Plot is fine, typical, quite predictable, but fine. If execution was better I’d be a much happier camper.
- Young king acts like a little bitch (had a life of privilege) but then faces responsibility and hardship, which lead to change. Not immediate and dramatic flip of personality, he’s still lost, insecure, has problems with sight of death… His reaction to his first battle was believable, made him real. I quite liked depiction of him.
- We actually aren’t sure about some characters being good or bad, treacherous or honest. That is a plus. That will keep you on the edge of your seat. At one point I had no Idea what MCs should do. I genuinely didn’t know where’s the catch, who shouldn’t be trusted.

There were some nice elements, some enjoyable dialogues, satisfying details, and inspired ‘touches’ here and there. Still that story is nothing remarkable (yet). As it is a… hexalogy (?) I’ll view it as a setup for the story and a warm up for the author.