I don’t always like a star system for reviews. Every site and even every blogger uses a different method for what their number of stars are supposed to mean. Which is all right, I guess, but it can become confusing after a time. My biggest issue with starred ratings, though, comes from how they are handled on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. A user can simply drop a star and go, leaving no explanation of how their personal starring method works, no indicator of how they actually feel about the story. And so, when I review books here and there, don’t expect any stars. My opinion comes in text format.
With that being said, I read a lot, so from time to time, you’ll be seeing little review entries like these. Now! First up…
Author: Greg Benage
Format read: Nook (via Smashwords)
The story told in A Circle of Iron follows the exploits of Caleb Thorn, a protagonist I couldn’t really tell you too much about. While his history is summarized nicely, a summary is all you should expect. A very short book, it’s only 140 pages in my Simple Touch. The story is fast-moving but not very deep, in a number of ways. Much like with Thorn, we never really get a description of the characters we’re following. With the exception of the typically attractive lead female, the descriptors for others are short and vague (Big, old, fat), which is still a leg up over Thorn – I spent most of the book assuming from his attitude and behavior that he was young and brash, only to read the summary of his life near the end of the book and discover he was likely the opposite. Well, the opposite of young, anyway.
The world Benage has put together is interesting, painting strong imagery of a large-scale fantasy landscape you unfortunately only get a peek at. Most of the action happens in the ruins of the city of Eldernost, now filled with scavengers and the vicious wights Thorn and his compatriots are tasked with hunting. And there is a lot of action, though stilted wording of a few incidents tend to slow the confrontations down, turning them into a drag instead of the fast-paced whirlwind of combat they could have been.
Despite its shortcomings, A Circle of Iron is written fairly well, avoiding many of the pitfalls indie authors – Especially those who give work away for free – often succumb to. The wights are interesting and the world is great for piquing one’s curiosity, but the length of this novella prevent it from spreading its wings so the story can fly.
Overall, good for a quick and easy read, but too light on the “epic” to be considered a real epic fantasy. Worth snagging for free, but I can’t say I’d have been content if I’d paid for it.