All right, time to talk about reviews. Book reviews. I will be periodically updating this page with new information, editorials and opinions by readers, fans, haters, or maybe even professionals, should they deign to take my books for a spin. So let’s see what people had to say.
General tone in Amazon reviews – All in all, it seems that most people agree on several key points. The book is fast-paced and character driven. While this makes for a quick read, the surrounding story might be lacking in detail. Some of the people feel they would have felt more connected to the book if it had more explanations of the world, the culture and the protagonists themselves. Indeed, as a deliberate story arch that will slowly be revealed in the sequels, I skipped on too many descriptions of people and places involved. In turn, the multiple and parallel plots taking place a a very rapid pace could confuse some of the readers.
Another common agreement is that The Betrayed is very violent and dark. Not for children, keep away from children seems to be the theme. I must admit I’m pleased with this observation, even though I did not try to make the book gory and grim and gritty on purpose, for the sake of publicity, it just sort of happened. You can’t really control how your brain works and translates its feelings and ideas into written words.
People also seem to like the human-centered story. Lots of fantasy books focus on magic and monsters, which is not the case here. Honestly, it’s just a brutal love story being told in a fantasy setting, in a fictional world dominated by medieval technology. That, plus a bucketful of prime-grade violence, the softie that I am. Again, I did not aim for changing the genre or sounding unique, I just told the story as I felt it should be.
A handful of quotes
Anyhow, let’s begin with some quotes and excerpts.
Peter felt you can find tender moments and breathe now and then:
The cover promises a dark and grim world inside. And dark and grim world it is. Full of violence, of desperation, full of evil. But not like in majority of other books, you feel that all this has its purpose, and through this the author has something important to say. You still can find tender moments, when you can take a deep breath.
Cristian aims for the PG rating:
At last, few words about the audience for the book,which IMO should be mature only. There are several sexual allusions mentioned during the story,as well as (sometimes too explicit) gore and violence brought by the war and city destruction. Keep this book away from children!
Oh, I agree, mate! Keep away from children!
DarkDuck discovers the wonders of human-ness in the book:
When you first read the word “fantasy” in the book description, it is very likely that you imaging world full of unusual creatures: trolls, hobbits, orcs, goblins. Don’t expect them to appear in this book by Igor Ljubuncic. Instead, his universe is inhabited by usual people, like most of us.
Ben agrees with the rest:
Like other reviewers mentioned – it isn’t easy to write a fantasy book. It’s even more difficult to write a good fantasy book – one that draws you into the world it describes, without being overbearing and redundant. Remarkably, this is what the author managed to do in his debut work.
This book describes a dark sinister world – with people that match it. Violence is a-plenty. There are a few places where the author may have been too focused on the violence and military details, but in my opinion those incidents are negligible when considering the breadth and depth of this book.
Marv likes it, but let’s focus on the criticism, as it’s more important than praise:
And here comes the first problem: it totally lacks depth in ambient descriptions. It’s hard to imagine the places where characters move, no way to picture landscapes in our head. All the action is focused on characters. The second, big problem, is fragmentation. Chapters are very short and each of them is related to one character. There are about 3-4 plots that proceed at the same time. Combine these two things and you have a fragmented story which is not easy to follow.
Anyway, I had a great fun reading this book. It has a lot of action, very fast paced and it’s one of the few fantasy books that is grim, dark and realistic. Not a masterpiece, but a good start for a saga that i hope will continue. Overall, I give it 3.5/5 rounded to 4/5 because it’s Igor’s first work and some faults are easily forgivable.
Danijel shares in the R-rating opinion:
It is intended for adult readers, as there are very violent parts.
Another nice review from a guy named Dan with some good pointers for me to take and implement in the sequel:
Also, it should be noted that (as the title states) this is the first book of a series, and its ending is somewhat abrupt and leaves more questions than it answers. Overall, I enjoyed the original story, the diversity and colorfulness of the characters, the fact that no one and everyone is a protagonist and the large universe which I feel will be a very fertile soil for the next books in the series, that will hopefully build upon the solid foundations laid by this book.
This lovely melodramatic quote from the official fan page:
Well, I didn’t finish reading this book… yet. I read about two thirds. As a fellow earthman, as a human being I should warn you, dear readers, whoever you are reading this book, it might color your day in black and darker black. Reading this violent, blood-flesh-bones-throwing-all-over book consequently day after day will bring violence into your life and feeling that hope is not for you. If you want to feel the joy of simple things like sunshine, air and knowing that there are people around you who do not wish you dead by suffocation and blood spilling, just read the book for a while (start where you’d like) and then close it and look around, take a deep breath. It will be like reincarnation, but you will be remembering you were dead for a while. The book is evil, mostly because of the combination of a good story, which makes you want to read further, and unspeakable violence and cruelty – beware, it’s a trap!
And here be links to various other reviews out there:
- The Betrayed review in Reviewer’s Bookwatch, August 2012, Midwest Book Review
- A highly negative review of The Betrayed – read at dedoimedo.com
- I got this by email from a guy named Patrick as a response to my piece above – not posted on Amazon yet:
I have to say, your response to the critical review is that of a thin-skinned beginner. I’ve been in the writing business for many years. Trumpeting the glowing reviews of a few readers and your editor are irrelevant. What you will discover, if you stick with this for enough years, is that the vast majority of readers are like little kids. As long as it’s cold and has sugar in it, it’s ice cream and they like it. Besides that, the vast majority of readers don’t have the skill to critically appraise writing.
“Although Armin reads “ancient maps” marked with an “alien alphabet,” there’s little feeling of another time, another world or even a language other than not particularly sharp English. At one point, Lord Erik answers Adam, the Godless, with an oddly contemporary “Nothing major.”
You dis this, but you’re wrong. There’s an art to writing fantasy and most authors, including you and well-known authors, don’t get it or don’t think about it. The evocation of time and place is critical to creating a believable fantasy world and the style of your narrative and dialogue fails handily. That you would respond with sarcastic thee’s and thou’s demonstrates that you really don’t understand what the critic is referring to (with any real depth).
My advice is to take a deep breath and cool it. You’ve got talent, but don’t let your arrogance (which may be deserved in other areas) be your worst enemy. Yes, there are naturals (just as with programmers) but to judge by your first book, you’re not one of them. You’ve got some real work and thinking to do if you want to up your game. Truth is, the critic was fairly accurate about your book.
The writing is sloppy and beginnerish. But so what? It’s your first book. Used to be, a book like yours would never have been published. An editor would have sent it back and told you to rewrite until it amounted to something. Unfortunately, anybody can nowadays publish anything, and first efforts are generally an embarrassment to any author.
If you want real opinions (and you got one and are getting one from me) don’t be a jerk. Show a little humility and consider what you’re being told. Your writing in “The Betrayed”, stylistically speaking, is amateurish, beginnerish and clunky.
Note: If you have any comments, please post them at the fan page, and I might add them here!
I will keep the section updated every few days. Stay tuned.