Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday Review - The Black Orb

Good morning, everyone!  I'm Claire Ashgrove (or Tori, or Sophia, or pick a name, any name), and I'm very happy to be contributing to reviews on the 4th Wednesday of even months.  As an author and editor who’s incredibly supportive of the independent market, when I was asked to review for Heroines of Fantasy, I decided I was going to start out with independently published and small press published books.  If we’re on the search for gems, you don’t need me providing remarks on a book that’s already amassed accolades or has countless reviews floating around. Which leads me to today’s review of The Black Orb.


Author:Sabine A. Reed
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $1.99 (ebook)
Publisher: Sabine A. Reed
An accomplished thief, Aria runs cons and picks pocket so that she can support her older brother, who is one of nature’s innocents. When he disappears, she fears he has been abducted by the minions of the Queen of Azmeer, and forcefully recruited in her army. While seeking word of his fate, she narrowly escapes capture herself. She is aided by an old man who appears to have strange and magical powers. Bikkar claims to know how she can free her brother and at the same time defeat the Queen’s potent weapon, the Black Orb, which sucks power from mages.

But before they do that, Bikkar must escape the stone warriors who pursue him, and Aria must die, for no living person can wield the magical Dragon Claw.
Amazon  |  Smashwords  |  Kobo

The Remarkables:

I love this cover.  It’s intriguing, it’s certainly professional, and perfectly conveys fantasy.  Self-publishing authors, take note.  Way.  Awesome.  Cover!

The magical elements are very intriguing and unique.  And the negative and positive consequences of these are also interesting.  The device that resolves the conflict, the Dragon Claw, its origin, ability, and how it’s employed is very original.  

There’s also a secondary character, the heroine’s brother, who was a breath of fresh air.  He’s “slow” as the heroine describes him, and typically characters like this are recluses and usually stand offs.  This one is well loved, and it was very nice to see him with a devoted partner as opposed to being the isolated, pitiable character we commonly see.

Overall concept of the book is also really engaging, and there are elements to the world building that are inspired—such as the Dryad’s and the way they are tied into the forest. Traditional, and yet not.  Very nicely done.

Presentation is above average, wholly professional, and it’s clear the author has employed professionals to meet this expectation.  Good job!

The Not-so-remarkables:

While the story was interesting, it just wasn’t as captivating as I had hoped it would be.  It’s entertaining, but it isn’t mesmerizing.  

I found the heroine a bit over the top – she never failed at anything, pulled off some miraculous deeds, achieved “legendary status” with little work, and pretty much was guaranteed to achieve her goal.  I never felt like she was ever in danger, and that breathless, hanging-on-the-edge tension just wasn’t present.  She’s too belligerent at times, too snarky, lacked internal struggle, and jumped too readily into her circumstances for her background.  I like more tension, more conflict both internally and externally.  I like more of a true journey of the soul, where values and beliefs are tested.  

It wasn’t a bad book by any means.  But as a professional editor who has worked with a multitude of books, what was most disappointing is the potential that’s right there but just not quite making it to the page in the right areas.  Perhaps this is a result of this being a somewhat older book of the author’s, and in all fairness, I must mention that.  Honestly, I don’t fault the author at all; a solid developmental editor should have pulled those aspects out, and I’m saddened this didn’t occur.

I think overall, I can sum up my thoughts with it was a good, enjoyable read, but I expected great, and was disappointed by the fact it could have been exceptional with a little more depth.  If you’re looking for a short entertaining passing of time, pick it up and check it out.  If you’re looking for a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I don’t make the recommendation.

1 comment:

Terri-Lynne said...

Thanks for an informative, and very honest review Claire.

I have to say, that cover is pretty dang cool.