Top critical review
So many problems
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2021
[My review is for the first book only: I cannot read the last two.]
I really wanted to like this, as Ms Lackey does a lot for aspiring authors and she gives a lot of good advice. I suspect that, being (one of?) her first book, she just hadn't learned that advice that she gives to others yet, and I am hopeful that reading her later works will show marked improvement. The problems read like a beginner's list of "things you should not do:"
1) Head jumping. One paragraph will be from the perspective of one character, and then without notice, in the next paragraph we are in another head. Then maybe we jump back the next paragraph. Or the next paragraph might be some sort of omniscient POV that can see things none of the characters can. It is very distracting to a generation of readers used to the tight 3rd person limiteds of GRRM or Erikson etc.
2) Showing instead of telling. Over and over and over, I kept longing for some actual showing but instead getting the main character making major progressions in half a page, things like "over the next few weeks she practiced hard and by the end she was really good at X." Half the time I felt like I was reading a synopsis of the story and not an actual *story*.
3) Mary Sue: the lead character is an infamous Mary Sue, she is better than everyone else at everything and everyone loves her immediately and will do anything for her.
4) WHERE IS THE CONFLICT? There was a short 5-page conflict at the beginning until she was rescued by a magical unicorn; and there was a brief time where she dealt with some very mild bullying that we were then told went away (not shown). Other than that, there was no "story", all we see is Mary Sue gaining more and more powers as she grows up a bit. I *guess* the "plot" as it were must be in the last two books?
5) World-building: the world building has some hints of what I am assuming is a talent that gets much better in her later books, but what is displayed in this book is simplistic and surface. Most annoying to me at least were the magical "companions": there's some handwavy background that they were created by a magician, but the mechanics of how they work and come back to life and just magically get reborn and show up somewhere when another one dies are completely skipped, as if that isn't something you are allowed to be interested in. In their "choosing", they evoke the horror of Rowling's "Sorting Hat" (given Rowling's hacktastic writing, it's not beyond the pale to think she stole this idea from here).