2 out of 4 stars
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Modern day and classic fantasy collide in The Empress and the Archer by Erich Wildgrube IV, the first book in this fantasy adventure series.
With the death of Velicorte’s beloved emperor, the land is thrown into turmoil for the first time in hundreds of years. Leeta Shepard is the empress-to-be, but threats stand in her way—namely evil druids and the goblins aiding them. Her only hope lies with the “Archer of Queen City.”
Meanwhile, in a modern-day place remarkably like Earth, Henry Ian Daniels works at his dad’s movie theater, crushes on one of his best friends, and does archery as a competitive hobby. In short, he leads a pretty typical life. Is that about to change? Is he the “Archer of Queen City” Leeta must find? Will Leeta stay ahead of the goblins hunting her long enough to find him, if he’s even the right guy?
I really enjoyed Velicorte. It’s one of those fantasy worlds I feel like I could get lost in for hours. There are grand forests and vast seas and talking animals. Add in the nasty druids and multiple goblin clans, and there’s adventure waiting to be had around every corner. Though there’s a formality to the place, there is also quite a bit of fun. Even though he’s one of the bad guys, I felt a little bad for the demon who was forced to speak in rhyme.
Opposite Velicorte, there’s Earth (or a place that’s like Earth). This place also felt real. Henry’s life is so basic, but he makes it interesting. I particularly liked his relationship with Dinah, his crush. Like Velicorte, there’s a certain formality to this part of the story, too. For me, the formal dialogue didn’t work as well for Henry and his friends as it did for Leeta’s crew. This sometimes pulled me out of the story, but I was usually able to get back into the flow without too much trouble.
While the formal dialogue didn’t trip me up too badly, there were some other things that persisted in pulling me from the action. The first is the sheer number of characters. In a book with two separate stories going on, it shouldn’t be too surprising that there’s a large cast. Unfortunately, I found there to be more characters than I could easily keep track of. The people immediately around Leeta and Henry weren’t so bad, but once I got into all the goblins, druids, and many side characters who would come into the story, die, and never be heard from again, I got lost. There are many fantasy books that employ this form of storytelling, so readers who don’t mind it would probably have no trouble. If you’re like me, you may find yourself confused.
There was also the POV. I wouldn’t quite call this third-person omniscient. Rather, it’s more like third-person close, but it’s close to almost everyone who walks by. The narrative jumped back and forth to different characters’ thoughts without breaks or indication that the POV was moving. As a result, I had a tough time keeping track of who was thinking what. Again, this may not bother all readers, but if you dislike this type of writing, you may find this book difficult to follow.
There were grammatical errors throughout the book, mainly missing punctuation. Due to this and the amount of trouble I had keeping track of the characters and POV, I rate The Empress and the Archer 2 out of 4 stars. There is a great adventure in here, which is why I didn’t rate this 1 star, but a few more rounds of revision are needed before I would give this 3. I recommend this book to fans of classic fantasy who don’t mind a little modern twist in their stories. Those with an interest in archery may find Henry relatable and also enjoy this book. There is a bit of violence but nothing graphic. This book is suitable for both teen and adult audiences. If the large cast of characters and POV switches wouldn’t bog you down, journey to Velicorte for a fantastic adventure.
The Empress and the Archer
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