The Wanderer's Tale

Well, this novel turned out to be my first major disappointment of the year. . .

Regardless of the number of fantasy books I've read over the years, I'm always thrilled to discover a new talented writer. 2006 brought us a slew of gifted authors such as Scott Lynch, Naomi Novik, Hal Duncan, Brian Ruckley and Joe Abercrombie. Earlier this year, we were introduced to Patrick Rothfuss, whose The Name of the Wind remains a sure candidate for fantasy debut of 2007. Hence, when you discover that both Tor Books and Pan MacMillan have high hopes for David Bilsborough's The Wanderer's Tale, you can't help but be eager to read it.

Still, even though I was excited to read this one, it was quite a struggle for me to reach the last page. And I so wanted to like this novel.

An odd blend of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Sword of Shannara, and various Forgotten Realms books from the late 80s, Bilsborough's The Wanderer's Tale is YA through and through. Pitched to the Paolini crowd, I sincerely believe that this debut has the potential to be a bestseller. But pitched to well-read fans and aficionados of the genre, this book falls short on basically every level.

The most impressive facet of The Wanderer's Tale remains the worldbuilding. Bilsborough's universe resounds with depth. The author's eye for details creates an arresting imagery. And yet, the heavy-handed prose filled with descriptions of all sorts will soon grate on the nerves of even the most patient of readers.

To say that this novel is overwritten would be the understatement of the year. Cutting 25% to 30% of it would get rid of a good chunk of the bloated prose and speed up the pace which leaves a lot to be desired. There seems to be at least one adverb per sentence -- I kid you not!

Sadly, the characters are rather clichéd -- every last one of them. I would be hard-pressed to find another such unappealing cast. There isn't one three-dimensional character in the bunch. For the most part, they are little more than cardboard cut-outs.

The dialogues are juvenile throughout The Wanderer's Tale, which is another reason why I believe it should have been aimed at a younger crowd. To say nothing of the puerile humor contained within the pages of this novel. Unless, of course, you have a thing for someone farting the national anthem. . .

Although the quest remains the biggest cliché associated with the fantasy genre, David Bilsborough shows a fertile imagination. But the execution falls flat, irrevocably so. And with such a stumbling and occasionally clunky narrative, the rhythm is sluggish throughout, with vast portions of chapters in which nothing occurs.

Overwritten, overlong, overhyped. . .

The final verdict: 5/10

For more info about this book: Canada, USA, Europe

13 commentaires:

Tia Nevitt said...

I've been keeping an eye on this one because I've been thinking about writing about it at Fantasy Debut. I'll keep your comments in mind before I make my final decision.

chris hyland said...

Your review made me laugh; he was such a stuck-up, arrogant, Tolkien-Is-God sod when you interviewed him :)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call this book a major disappointment. It was easy to tell all along it wouldn't be so great.

jeff hotchkiss said...

I agree with Chris Hyland. I was turned off by his arrogance in the interview. But I was still looking forward to the book. I figured I'd give him the benefit of the doubt, but I may pass on this one altogether now. Thanks for the warning.

Sahakuen said...

5 out of 10?

The worldbuilding must be awesome.

RedEyedGhost said...

And they say bloggers won't give out bad reviews!

That's too bad that you didn't like it, but thanks for telling it like it is.

(I have to say though, after the attitude he had in your interview with him I wasn't to keen on picking this one up anyways)

Tia Nevitt said...

Yikes! I went back and read the interview. Why would an author want to be so . . . negative? And I just can't respect an author who won't put up a website. It's a great way to reach readers, but obviously, he's not interest in that.

RobB said...

Yeah, 5 out of 10? The narrative of the review makes it sound more like a 2 or 3 out of 10, at best.

How he presented himself in your interview, specifically the disdain that came through from him towards the genre was a major turnoff.

Anonymous said...

Well, we can't all NOT be tools.

Scott Marlowe said...

Adverbs in every sentence? Adverbs really grate on my nerves... I'll have to pass on this one.

Anonymous said...

Just read his interview and can't believe how much of a twat this guy is.

Anonymous said...

Is this a self-published book? That's the blandest cover since Stanek.

JureF said...

Very good review. I'm actually somewhere in the middle of this book and really struggling with it - it just drags on and on. Especially when I compare it to the previous two fantasy books I read - the first two of the Gentleman Bastard series from Scott Lynch.