Enchantress, by James Maxwell, is a fantasy adventure novel that is somewhat well written but filled with cliches and tropes. Maxwell does a good job creating the world his story takes place in, but his story is all too familiar. The story itself contains more generic fantasy elements than any other book I’ve read, which makes for a familiar, but somewhat bland read: Orphaned kids? Check. The kids are incredibly proficient at magical and martial combat? Check. Giant war between “dark and light” that the kids both play key roles in winning? Check. The list goes on and on. Mix in some half-baked familiar character personalities, and some (in my opinion) lazy storytelling, and you get what I would consider a very mediocre book. I will not be reading the remaining books in The Evermen Saga. I would not feel comfortable recommending this book, but I wouldn’t ward someone away from it as if it were toxic materials either.
I like the cover image. I don’t feel like there is much to say about it since it’s a very generic fantasy image. The cover alone wouldn’t have made me pick up the book, but overall I found the image pleasing while remaining interesting and relevant to the story. I especially like the ring of runes around the outside cover, but that’s mostly because I love to draw runes myself.
- The writing itself is done fairly well. Outside of one large editorial mistake, a few minor ones, and a few obvious pet phrases and descriptors, there was nothing unforgivably wrong with how the story was written.
- The world building is done skillfully. The author presents you with fleshed out (but similar) cultures, religions, and a brief, but detailed historical record of the world. I believe that the world building is the major high point of the entire novel.
- His characters aren’t the most compelling or interesting characters I’ve ever encountered. They all fit neatly into one cookie cutter cliche or another. Maxwell did throw a few curve balls at me with some of his minor characters that were of note. But even with his cookie cutter characters (hurray alliteration!) they are written well enough to remain interesting.
- Aside from one stretch of the book that involves a large amount of traveling (a pitfall I’ve seen far too many authors make), the pacing of the book is done well. The characters move quickly from one situation to another, rarely giving the reader time enough time to become bored with it.
- The system of magic in the book frequently struck me as an unfinished idea that would fluidly shift between modes of operation depending upon what was convenient for the situation. Magic in the book functions by inscribing items, surfaces, and things with runes; the user then speaks a trigger sequence to activate the runes, and a trigger sequence to turn them off. But this isn’t true all the time. An elite fighting force called Bladesingers must constantly ‘sing’ a complex string of activation words, or the magic in their swords and armor ceases to work. (Except for the one guy who doesn’t have to chant to keep his super badass magical sword active). Why do they have to sing to keep their magic working? Other characters just need to speak the rune word and the power of the rune manifests itself. I don’t know, it’s never explained and it feels like a cheap and convenient way to make the Bladesingers seem cooler. On top of this some runes run out of power and must be re-inscribed, some seem to never run out of power. These inconsistencies were a real disappointment in what, otherwise, was a cool and somewhat unique interpretation of magic.
- Quick, think of any fantasy cliche or trope you can. It’s probably in this book. Orphaned teenaged heroes, with mysterious parents who fought in a war similar to the one they now fight, are exceptionally talented in martial and magical combat. I have nothing against tropes and cliches; they end up frequently used for a good reason. They reverberate with readers, and they are things we can all relate to on some level. But when you pile them on so thick that I can’t go an hour of reading without stumbling over four or five of them, you’ve used too many.
- The story is painfully predictable. Once you come to the realization that the story is essentially constructed of a long chain of cliches and tropes, the remainder of the story becomes plain to see.
- The book is named Enchantress and the main character is named Ella. Ella Enchanted anyone? Not really worth a major ding, but there’s enough association there that I feel the author should have picked a different name.
- The author’s understanding of military tactics must be very limited. I am no elite commander, but several of the military situations and tactics laid out before you in the book are completely ineffective, and arguably insane. (Although given some of the characters in the book this could have been on purpose).
- There’s a love scene in the book that is very descriptive–so descriptive that while reading it I suddenly began to wonder if I was reading erotica. When placed next to the rest of the book, the scene felt very inappropriate and ill-conceived.
Ever since the day an Enchanter saved her brother, Miro, Ella has dreamt of becoming an Enchantress. Everyday she scrapes and saves, working hard to save the five thousand deen tuition fee required by the Enchanting School.
While his sisters dreams lie in the magical, Miro’s desires find their roots in the martial. Miro wants to be one of the realm’s elite soldiers, Miro wants to become a bladesinger.
Both the siblings relentlessly throw themselves at their studies; through diligence, desire, and dedication, both of them not only meet their goals, but they do so while displaying incredible potential and ability. But a dark force looms on the horizon, threatening to consume the siblings and all they have ever held dear. War will force a great physical distance between the them, but they never cease walking the same path.