ARC Review: “Prophecy” by Ellen Oh

ProphecyProphecy (The Dragon King #1) by Ellen Oh

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The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for this eARC! This title will be released January 2nd, 2013.

Let me just say that I had only the HIGHEST hopes for this book. I mean, read that blurb. See that cover. There is NO WAY that this doesn’t look like the most awesome thing ever.

When I first started reading, I believed my hopes would be entirely acheived. Throughout the entire book, there was nothing more awesome then the setting and the descriptions. Prophecy is without a doubt a visual feast, especially for those people–like me–who like nothing more then world based on Asian mythology. (I mean, dragons and tiger spirits? YEAH.)  They did get long at points, but I didn’t mind because I WANT TO LIVE HERE. You know, when the whole world isn’t at war.

The world BUILDING, on the other hand, suffered a little. I was pretty confused for most of the book, with all the words and countries being tossed back and forth without much explanation. Having a map at the beginning of the book DOES NOT mean you can go away without explaining a bunch of stuff. Especially for those of us on cheap Kindles, it isn’t easy at all to jump back and forth from the front map to the back glossary to where we were in the story. (And if it is and I’m just technology-impossible, someone help me out.) In general, though, it seemed like world building was sacrificed for world description, and it frustrated me sometimes.

In the beginning, I thought the cast of characters for this book would be way too many. I was very impressed how Oh mananged to keep the number of characters “on screen” down, and keep the main characters in the forefront. Still, with that said, something about the characters felt off to me. We were certainly given enough reasons to feel sympathy for the characters, and we were given just enough backstory to connect with them but I … never did. Kira and her friends stayed flat to me, despite all the death and action around them. Other characters, especially some background ones, just seemed characterized. I’ve never been especially character oriented, but even this felt lacking to me.

Where I always focus is the plot, and there I also found issue. To be fair, it rarely stopped moving. Within chapters of the beginning, Kira is an outcast, betrothed to a pretty psychopath and then on the run with the crown prince. They LITERALLY don’t stop moving. They go through like three countries and numerous moutains, temples and castles. For 336 pages, they cover a LOT of ground.

Which I guess is one of the reasons the plot seemed so choppy.

The only way that Oh could have hoped to fit everything in is by cutting out parts of the journies, and that’s what she did. Still, this made the book seem like it was jumping around, especially when this happened in the same chapter. Characters were suddenly dead, cities were suddenly taken by the enemy–and these weren’t small characters or cities. The characters and the cities that were being attacked by the enemy had huge impact on the main characters, but this impact was never explored. All of the sudden it just happened, sometimes with no explanation. I just kept moving with the flow, but the bumps in the road were definetly there.

Also, huge plus: romance takes up like 2% of this book. So the female main character ACTUALLY spends ALL her time kicking butt and not batting her eyelashes. Personally, I find this fantastic.

All in all, I did enjoy this book. It was an interesting premise and I loved the setting. The characters were flat to me, but they weren’t dislikeable by any means. This book is definetly one for those people who are looking for more high fantasy settings with female heroines who certainly kick butt. I do look forward to reading the next book in this series, because I think it can only go up from here.

Book 2, Warrior, is due 2014. Book 3, King, is due 2015.

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