Wrath of the White Tigress
David Alastair Hayden, 2011
Free copy received from BookRooster.com for review
Premise: Zyrella is the last priestess of the White Tigress. The sorcerer Salahn has conquered the nation with his elite corps of warriors and is absorbing and destroying minor deities in his quest for immortality. Zyrella is trying to protect her goddess, but the Tigress herself is more concerned with a warrior named Jaska. He is the worst of the sorcerer's men, but could he be the Tigress's salvation?
Sometimes I should listen to my first instinct. When I received the offer of this review copy, I did what I always do: I read the sample on Amazon. I thought it was interesting, with promise, but not enough to request the review copy. Later I was cleaning samples off my Kindle and I came across it again. I found that I was still intrigued by the concept, so I requested a copy after all.
Then I read it.
It's not a terrible book, but neither is it good. The characters are forced into some growth and change right at the beginning, but then their state is basically set for the rest of the book. The warrior, it turns out rather quickly, was hypnotized magically. He thought he was fighting for right and justice when he was torturing and raping villagers. So he's tormented by half-memories and still super-badass, and that doesn't change through the rest of the novel. The priestess is sad, yet hopeful and a bit ineffable. (Of course she's drawn to the warrior dude. Later there's an explanation for this. It's incredibly stupid.) The bad guys are evil. They think of themselves as evil and congratulate each other on how evil they are.
This can work: an author can make the villains a legion of crazy Caligulas, but it's a delicate balance to keep it seeming realistic. Why does this group hold power at all? There are no illusions: everyone knows they're evil. Why don't the other nations band together to stop them? The in-world explanation seems to be that Sorcerer-guy is too powerful already, but it seems odd to me that there aren't heroes breaking out all over.
None of the characters grow or change over most of the novel. They learn stuff, then proceed to a new area, then gain a new party member. It got a little silly. The ending wasn't satisfying, and there was occasional highly explicit violence that seemed to come out of nowhere.
The writing isn't bad on a technical level; the description is decently done and some of the ideas are really intriguing. However, for me the story never really delivered on its early promise. None of the races, magics, religions or back-stories seemed fully realized to me. The world-building felt merely superficial.
After all that, I still didn't hate this book, I just don't really think it was worth the time to read when there are so many novels in the world.
1 Star- Didn't Much Like It.