Official Review: The Prophet by Don Newton

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esp1975
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Official Review: The Prophet by Don Newton

Post by esp1975 »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Prophet" by Don Newton.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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I was excited to pick up Don Newton’s The Prophet - Prelude: The Trial of Sa’riya as it was billed as a short story that is a prequel to his Prophet series, a series I had been considering picking up. I was not disappointed.

The Trial of Sa’riya takes place over roughly 48 hours. But there is a lot going on in those 48 hours. The very powerful Sa’riya is on trial before the other magical beings of the multiverse for the crimes of marrying a human and killing her own sister. But did she kill her sister or was it an unfortunate accident? Does the truth matter to the other magical beings or is a guilty verdict guaranteed because of the power Sa’riya represents? The person assigned to prosecute the case is the leader of the Draggons.

At the same time, Sa’riya’s husband’s people have been at war with the Draggons for generations. Their best warriors are embarking on a secret mission to kill the leader of the Draggons, in the hopes that a new Draggon leader would be someone they could negotiate a peace with. It is a plan the was devised by a god. What could go wrong?

I feel The Trial of Sa’riya needs to be evaluated on two different levels. The first way to evaluate it is as a stand-alone short story. Unfortunately, on this level, it does not succeed. The story is interesting and the characters are complex. But there are too many characters and almost no background is given for any of them. The motivations of the different members of the jury at Sa’riya’s trial are never explained. And very few of those are presented as nuanced. Mostly we see the Draggon elder who explains that the sole purpose of the trial is to find Sa’riya guilty and punish her.

There are threads (and characters) that are introduced that get dropped. I could understand that they were important but not how or why. As a short story, it was a prime example of too much (characters and plot) supported by not enough (history, world-building, character background). This was the biggest failing of the story.

The second way to evaluate The Trial of Sa’riya is as a prelude/prequel. On that level, my guess is that it succeeds beautifully. If this story were the opening chapters of a longer book, I would have fewer concerns about wanting to understand everything that was happening because I would assume that it was all going to be explained further down the line. I also make the assumption that if I had read at least the first full books in Newton’s Prophet series, I would have the character and world backgrounds needed for this to make sense. It would likely fill in a bit of the history that I was curious about. The bits of world-building that we did get to see were incredibly well done and were my favorite parts of the story.

I give The Prophet - Prelude: The Trial of Sa’riya by Don Newton three out of four stars. It had a high quality of writing and editing. (There are some italicized words that I do not agree with italicizing, but it was very obviously an editorial decision, not a mistake.) It does not get that fourth star because it is marketed as a stand-alone story, and it cannot stand alone.

I would recommend The Trial of Sa’riya to anyone who has already started Newton’s Prophet series or fantasy readers who want to read the series. There is too much complexity for the story to be suitable for younger readers, but there is nothing inappropriate in it. Older teens and adults who enjoy fantasy works will almost certainly enjoy this story if they are willing to be in it for the whole series.

******
The Prophet
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Brendan Donaghy
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

It really irritates me when a book described as a stand-alone read fails to do just that. You've written a well-balanced review of it, which is probably more than I could've managed in the same circumstances!

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Post by Mbrooks2518 »

Your review makes me curious about The Prophet series. Great review!

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Post by rumik »

Another well-written review as always, esp1975! It's good to have you back. I haven't been very active here lately myself, but it felt weird not seeing you around. Thanks for the wonderful review!

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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 »

@Brendan Donaghy - I was a little disappointed that it wasn't more stand-alone. And it could have been. If the secondary plot thread about the attempted assassination of the Draggon leader had been pulled out, the rest of the story would have worked much better all on its own. Still, it was really well written, and I could tell the author had done all the necessary background work.

@Mbrooks2518 - I agree. It was well enough written that I would definitely consider picking up the entire series.

@rumik - Thank you! I've missed being around, though with classes back in session again starting today, I don't know how much I will be here. I am going to try and plan a couple of times each week to log on. Plus, I was sick for a bit and behind on reading. Hopefully that's behind me, and I'll have the reason of posting new reviews to be here.

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Kelyn
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Post by Kelyn »

I haven't encountered this series before, but your review has made me curious. Magic and fantasy are two of my favorite genres. It's a bit annoying that it was advertised as a stand-alone book when it isn't, but now I know to read the others first. Thanks!

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Post by Ever_Reading »

While I am a fan of fantasy, I don't feel drawn to try out this series of stories. Which means it's probably not wise to read this book as it cannot be read as a standalone. Great review though. Thank you!
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Post by LinaMueller »

As soon as I started reading your post, I wondered, is this book a trilogy? It seems to be a story that demands more than one book. I loved your thorough review. Good job, my dear.
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I may remember him!

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Post by Prisallen »

This does sound like an intriguing series, but I prefer to read stand-alone books. I really enjoyed reading your review. Great job, as always!

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Post by unamilagra »

I am not familiar with this series, but I'm guessing maybe a lot of the background information is left out because the author assumed people would have read the series first? Either way, it sounds like this book really needed to be a full-blown novel to meet its potential. It does sound like an interesting series though! Thanks for a great review!

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Post by Rayasaurus »

It's a little unfortunate that it didn't quite work as a standalone story, but it sounds good! I might give it a read somewhere down the line. Thank you for the review!

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Post by Kanda_theGreat »

Your review is commendably balanced and weighs yhe different chances that the book could stand in prose classification.
Thank you.
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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 »

@Kelyn , @Ever_Reading , @unamilagra - The book is not necessarily advertised as a stand-alone work, which is why I kind of gave it two reviews. It is made very clear that the book is a prequel, so it lots of people coming to it will have all the information already. But I also know many people, when starting to read a series want to read things in chronological order, regardless of what order they were written in. So as a prequel, many people new to the series might very well start with this story, and that's where it falls down.

@LinaMueller - It is definitely part of a series. Not certain how long the series is, though if it's a trilogy, then this is the 4th entry in it. :p

@Prisallen, @Rayasaurus - I would have liked this better if it had been written as a stand-alone. At the same time, it wouldn't have been able to be a short story if the author had had to include all the background information I was missing.

@Kanda_theGreat - Thank you.

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