- The Price of Power
- Michael Michel
- January 31, 2023
- The Price of Power #1
To be entirely upfront, this is a review of a book I haven’t finished yet for 2 primary reasons. The first is my day job encroaching into my free time, leaving me overworked and tired, the second is from me re-reading nearly every page 2 – 3 times. (More on that later.) Regardless, I don’t think my opinion on this story will change when I finish it. I think it’s an incredibly solid book that deserves to be read.
The Price of Power is akin to a painting of words. It’s beautifully descriptive and creative. Such as a Blacksmith being described as “….. a couple of buckets of nails heavier, ….” than another character. Right after that same scene, this previously jovial walk two characters were on is made sour in the mouth of the PoV character as she sees things from the other’s point of view. Earlier on in the novel, that same character was training with her battle cat and the author painted in detail exactly how the cat was reacting, and what it was doing with its legs.
The character dialogue as a whole makes every character, down to the lowliest beggar feel like a genuine human being who could actually exist. The background characters are as important to the scene building as the protagonists. The protagonist’s internal dialogue in response to their actions and dialogue is also a wonderful touch.
As you might expect, with this level of detail and 5 or more PoV characters, it’s very slow-paced. I personally love slow-paced novels, I’m all about it. I just figured I’d mention that for people who should be reading a mindless action novel because world-building is boring to them. I normally don’t pay attention to chapter headers, but I do remember around chapters 15 – 17 things were still only barely beginning to get a little bit of traction.
While fantasy world maps might be a bit cliché at this point, I think it would have proven useful. More useful than that though, would have been a glossary and or pronunciation guide. Throughout the entire novel, I constantly felt like I was missing vital details. I genuinely started to wonder after 100~ pages if I was reading book 2 of a series or something. One character is described as a “prosort” and I had no idea what that word was. I looked it up and didn’t get any responses on dictionary sites. It wasn’t explained until much later on in the book. Somewhere in the first couple of hundred, I believe. A glossary would have helped a lot.
I’ve ranted before about this “green-eyed” character cliché in fiction. It’s seriously annoying how those of us with green eyes are the poster child for lazy writing. Where green eyes basically mean “Look at me, I’m interesting!” If you think I’m making a big deal out of it, go read this 11-year-old blog post illustrating this issue. Why Green Eyes Are A Problem in Fiction… by Sian Griffiths. It’s played the fuck out and I’m seriously sick of it.
It reminds me of how the videogame developers Bioware decided you couldn’t change the companion character’s armor, because they wanted them to be recognizable based on appearance. If the most noteworthy thing about your character is their cliché eye color or their costume, they’re not an interesting character. Try again.
One final cliché I didn’t even notice until this book that really got me thinking, and mildly annoyed…. Why is it nearly every single indie fantasy book has some unproven, untested, orphaned, child ruler? The Relics of War Series, Season of Kings, Army of the Cursed, The Price of Power, A Contract in Sol Forne, and The Return of the Knights. Did I not get the memo that this must be included in every single story now? It was interesting the first few times, now I’m over it. Though I will say, for whatever it’s worth, this book has easily done the most interesting and compelling version of this. Due to again, the attention to detail.
While I’m back on the attention-to-detail thing; one of my favorite moments came early on. One character drew her mace in a fight and it was described as having 4 flanges. The fight was an intense standoff, and no extra info was given. Shortly after, she’s confronted again, in a less intense battle, and more details were given about the mace. That was a moment early on when I knew what type of writing this book was going to be, and made me excited to read more.
Last minute note; While getting the description for this book, I read that it was the author’s debut novel. WOW! This book is one hell of an introduction to the writing world. Bravo!