Book Review: King’s Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

I love indie-publishing and indie-published authors. I love the support of the community, and I love supporting and helping fellow indie-authors. Unfortunately, when I read poorly edited indie novels I really want to go to the author and say “This was good, but it could be better” and help them polish it, and I usually can’t. This is one of those poorly edited novels.

The potential is all there. The characters are good, the plot is interesting, there are a lot of connections between things. Unfortunately, I wasn’t emotionally invested, and there are a few reasons for this. First of all, we’re never in one character’s POV for more than three paragraphs at a time (and that’s the high end of the spectrum). It’s really hard to form an emotional connection with a character you don’t get more than five second meetings with. It also removes the emotional oomph of character relationships–and particularly conflicts–when you don’t get to share in a character’s frustration or confusion or whatever the case may be because you’re immediately seeing both sides of an issue. I want to experience things with the character, and that doesn’t get to happen when you’re seeing everyone’s POV in a given scene and each one only lasts one or two paragraphs.

In a similar vein, there was too much information shared, and it wasn’t done so in an artistic way. We’re told almost everything. Emotions, backstory, worldbuilding… whether it’s through character dialogue or narration, we’re always told things and never shown. Done well, backstory and worldbuilding can really add to a story and give it more depth. Done poorly, it only detracts from the story and draws the reader out of the action. And you want to be intentional about what you include or when, otherwise the reader feels like they know everything and there’s no mystery or intrigue anymore.

One way we were given too much information goes back to POV choice (or lack thereof). Almost every character has a POV at some point. Even a random Dark Warrior in a battle who’s there for all of three paragraphs to almost make you pull for him before he dies. There’s no information given in those three paragraphs that’s useful to the rest of the story, it doesn’t create any emotional depth because it doesn’t affect the good guy on the other side in the least, and the character has no importance anywhere else in the story. But that guy aside, we see into the POV of the antagonist, at least one of the antagonist’s lackeys if not two (who give away different aspects of the plot so it’s not a mystery anymore), every meaningful protagonist, and several less-meaningful protagonists. It removes any sense of mystery if we’re seeing every single angle of the story, we don’t get to wonder about any one character’s backstory as much as we’d like (*cough*Brant*cough*), and overall there’s just a lot less tension and interest.

As a result of the lack of showing anything and the POV choice, the characters ended up less engaging than they could have been. Their basic personalities managed to shine through, but were squandered by the lack of emotional depth to the writing. I also thought their dialogue all sounded the same, which was disappointing. And almost none of them spoke in contractions; I think even the 12-year-old often spoke without contractions.

The characters’ emotional reactions to things (particularly when it came to knowing or not knowing or realizing things) was often over-dramatized. Dylanna’s surprise anytime Brant revealed some part of his backstory she hadn’t been aware of (how did she not know about him if she’s ancient and has been around the castle for ages he was {spoilers}, anyway?), Oraeyn’s surprise at the sword (dude. that was obvious from the very beginning because we knew everything about the sword’s history from the get-go. if he didn’t, why did we? and if he did, how did he not put two and two together?), etc. And are we really supposed to believe that those four sisters never kept in touch given their abilities and thus were totally lost as far as who they were familiar with? (Again, BRANT.)

The book also needed a proofreader/line-editor for the grammatical issues (particularly surrounding dialogue), which seems to be pretty common even with indie books that are well-written otherwise. (Which kind of makes me sad. Come let me fix your grammar and make your book even prettier. I want it to be the most beautiful it can be! D:)

I mostly enjoyed the ending (the very final scene painted a beautiful picture), and I thought that things were wrapped up nicely for the most part. (Although King Arnaud didn’t really know Oraeyn, so that particular choice seems a bit odd to me, considering he’s also pretty young.) It had the same problems with emotional depth as the rest of the book, except for that final scene, which clearly stands out to me.

Overall, this book has a lot of potential, but it needs a clearer focus and less excessive information.

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