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    A nice novel for pre-teen readers

    When the village of Fallow is attacked by a host of creatures that should only exist in myths, the unlikely team that sets out to stop the problem is made up of two Magisters, an orphaned servant girl, and a guy whose back story doesn’t really add up. As they travel North to find the root of all mayhem, Emelyn will have to face many disquieting questions. Are the Magisters to be trusted, or is everything people say about the Order more than rumors? Could she be able to wield the Art? And most importantly, is she really just a orphaned housemaid? It’s so difficult to review books that didn’t elicit any strong reaction in me. Up until the ending, which in my opinion was really weak, I didn’t have any big issues with this novel. Trouble is, I didn’t have any particular praise for it either. It was nice, in the sense I didn’t actually want to drop it, but nothing more. I think the setting had the greatest potential out of all the elements in this novel. It wasn’t extraordinarily original or well-built, but it worked and had some intriguing ideas. I’m still left feeling as if it could have been explored more, which is appalling considering the plot is a quest in the wild. I think there are sequels planned though, and most of the stuff I’m curious about should be explored further there. On the other hand, the weakest link were probably the characters. Characterization was pretty much non-existent for any of them, although it was most noticeable in the protagonist. One thing I couldn’t help notice was the absolute absence of distinctive speech patterns in the main group: the servant girl and carpenter spoke exactly like the two old scholars. I think the antagonist is the one whose lack of character I was most disappointed in. They were the usual bad fantasy villains with no purpose other than destruction, no plans or cunning, only scary because they’re powerful. Now, I like these evil cardboard cut-outs made only to loom over the plot. But they need to be so almighty and pervasively evil, not a chapter passes by in which we’re allowed to forget they are there, at the end of our plot, especially as we near the ending. If your villain lacks personality, they should at least have presence. This was not the case in The thirteenth tower, in fact the only terrifying manifestations of their power are in the beginning and in the final confrontation. And even if they had been a well-written villain of this kind, why reduce them to that, when they have such clear ties to the main cast? It really ruined the ending for me (beside managing to guess it from halfway in, but I’d put that down to this being a middle grade novel. And me being more familiar than it’s recommended with fantasy tropes).
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