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I'm a grad student, an avid reader, a huge nerd, fervent roleplayer, wife, cat lover, tea snob, and obsessive keeper of lists.
The Crown Conspiracy - Michael J. Sullivan Sorry, guys. I know this is one of the big successes of the self-publishing fantasy biz, but wow, was it not for me. The story lagged, the dialogue was beyond wooden, most of the characters whiny and emotionally immature. It took a good couple of books after this one to get the taste of bad fantasy out of my mouth.

Let's start with the biggest problem. The dialogue. The descriptive passages are fine, but there is such a tin ear for dialogue in this book. Practically every page had something that dragged me out of the story and made me look at the page cockeyed, wondering why the hell it had been phrased in such an awkward way.

Particularly bad is his attempt to use modern English in his medieval fantasy setting. I'm not saying this can't be done. (I'm reading The Lies of Locke Lamora right now, and that is how you do it well, ladies and gentlemen.) I'm saying it's done badly here. It's awkward, it doesn't fit the descriptive passages, it feels like someone trying far too hard to be hip.

And worse is the one character who tries to speak in self-conscious archaic English. He switches from "thee"s to "ye"s from page to page, with no internal consistency, and no thought - and often, that's the wrong word to use. Seriously, the descriptive passages are generally fine. The dialogue, blech.

The story is fine. The main characters, the robbers, are fine. (I do love a good rogue - see above re: Locke Lamora.) The royalty, though, is all far too whiny and prone to behave like they're about 10 and never been in a castle before, instead of having been, you know, raised to this. I don't mind if characters are rebelling against their training, but there needs to be some proof there was this training, you know?

At any rate. Someone has killed the king and laid the blame on two of the most elite robbers in the kingdom. They are broken out of jail by the king's daughter and sent to protect the king's son and get him to a secret prison. And stuff happens along the way to uncovering the conspiracy and setting the heir on the throne.

As far as a fantasy plot goes, it's okay, but definitely not new or innovative. That might have been acceptable, if it hadn't been for that dialogue. Oi.

Crossposted to Smorgasbook