Sentinel by Joshua Winning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sentinel by Joshua Winning
This is another of those books I can love to hate. You want to give it the benefit of the doubt because it really is a well told story in many ways. There are few if any problems with the grammar and though there is a small amount of hopping back and forth between characters it's not enough to drive you out of the story. And the story is a really nice story with well paced action and story development. What is missing is the heart of the story for me. I usually like the characters in the story more than the story itself. Especially when the story is one that's been told many times already. Unfortunately here we have a twice told tale with mediocre characters.
This story starts out sounding like Harry Potter. We have the orphaned boy- a bit older than Harry was when he was orphaned, but the boy is the main character and has a pivotal role that involves a nasty evil that wants to get its clutches on him. This story also talks of myths or legends or fables, often in a sort of tongue and cheek manner while trying to impress upon the reader that we are headed into the the gritty realism of these fables. As with the potter stories we have the division of factions some good and some evil and the tipping of the scales as some of the good are turned to the evil side.
There are many good and winning moments in the story and the telling of the story, but there is also a bit of deliberate withholding of information and obfuscation to deliberately mislead the reader perhaps in the same tone as some fable lead the reader down one path only to throw the moral or final outcome in their face as a sort of jarring reality. Much of the time Nicholas is asking for answer from people who have the answers but fail to give them not because they are dying before telling or they are too busy fighting for their survival (although that one is a close call), but mostly because they say it's not time. Which mean in this case it's not time to let the reader know what's going on and that's what hurts the most in this book. There are so many deliberate red herrings and misdirections and left off explanation that by the time the reader receives the picture it's really too late and it become almost the deus ex machina except in this book it works primarily toward the evil's benefit.
All of this would have worked for me if the characters had been allowed more dominance in the story, but I felt constantly that the story was what this was all about and the characters really didn't matter. That proves out by the ease with which the evil is often finally thwarted despite it's having all these godlike powers. Nicholas is constantly a so so character throughout the narrative and though many other support characters have the grit and determination that it takes for the task Nicholas seem short shrifted with just the distinction of being the one person who is suppose to help overcome the evil(he has a long way to go).
Even so this is a trilogy and we are left still wondering about what significant power Nicholas has or if his power might be that he has only little power. And once again I will emphasize that this would work if the reader were given as much a picture of Nicholas in all his timidity as they are the bloody battle scenes that he rarely gets to participate in.
There's definitely enough action and suspense to keep the story moving and for that I'm giving this high marks for entertaining with a fairly solid story and well paced suspense. Unfortunately characterizations and the ending reminded me a lot of the movie Howard the Duck.
This is still a good Young Adult Fantasy Fable type of story for those fans of youthful world savers. It has an interesting story that is a blend of several other stories and plenty of suspense for those who like the thrill of a chase. I will be checking to see how well Nicholas develops in the next two books.
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