In a world where magic has been forbidden, an evil rises and threatens total destruction unless one young man can step into his destiny and choose the right path.
I hated to do this, but I stopped reading somewhere around page 300 of the third book of this 4-part series. I came to the realization that I would rather be reading anything else but this book, and given that I have a sizable stack on my bedside table, I decided to cut my losses and move on.
I just didn’t feel like Berg created a captivating emotional experience. Unlike Robin Hobb’s work, I didn’t get invested in the character to the point where I felt like my heart was breaking for them. There’s a key plot problem at the root of this. In Book One, Son of D’Avonar, a great love affair is set up between the main character and her dead husband. However, her husband is NOT actually dead–his soul was held in limbo by another character then put into a new body after that soul escaped. Should sound familiar to anyone who’s watching “Battlestar Galactica,” because that’s what the Cylons do. When they die, they download into another body. That makes them good villains, because it makes things really easy for them, and therefor they’re a huge threat. The reason this is a problem for a protagonist is that it lowers the stake considerably. I just wasn’t afraid that anything important could be lost.
By the third book, I just had the feeling that I was inside a video game, an old-school one like Zork where it was all about typing in the right commands to reveal a pre-planned adventure. The protagonists weren’t at the heart of the story; instead, the story was already written and they just had to experience it. Nobody died who you’d miss, and nothing was lost that couldn’t be regained. Compare this to Hobb’s work–Fitz is brought back to life, but at considerable cost to his soul. His life is radically changed by this act, and a sense of sorrow for what he lost permeates the rest of his quest. It’s an ache that’s deeply human. It didn’t take Cher to tell us that we can’t turn back time. We are the sum of our history, for better or for worse. When redemption comes, it’s not an eraser or a cosmic rewind button, but a transformation that sends us forward even more. That’s what these books were missing for me.