Monday, March 12, 2012

Kathy Reviews - The Four Elements: The Fallen Knights by Stephen Gawn

File Size: 393 KB
Format: Kindle Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Smashwords)

When sixteen-year-old Michael McCloud accepted an apprenticeship to learn about his abilities, controlling the four elements, he thought it would be a snap. But when he is almost killed, things seemed to be not as easy as he thought. To make matters worse the killer demands he give up a powerful object that might be a key to a lost treasure of King Arthur. The only problem is he doesn't have it ...

Will Michael McCloud unfold the mystery behind who is trying to murder him or will his bullheaded attitude and impulsive behavior lead him into the hands of his enemy?

Kathy's Review:

Michael McCloud is a teenager (above, it says sixteen, but in the course of reading, it said he was fifteen - I'll get to this problem in a minute) who has just discovered he has elemental powers, which runs in his family. He then must learn to use his powers at Embury, one of many specialized schools, and keep track of a watch somehow connected to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that was given to him by his grandfather, that someone seems intent on stealing from him.

If I can get up on my soapbox for a minute: I cannot stress how important it is to edit your work. Have someone else (who knows what they are doing) read your work before you publish. Just because you have a good story, doesn't make you a good writer. This book had many, many mistakes, the most egregious being the use of "then" instead of "than" used wrong multiple times. Or describing an odor as "fowl." (I gave myself a chuckle when I read that a cat's breath had a "fowl" odor - I guess he just ate a bird! HA! I crack myself up sometimes). The city where the school was located was misspelled once that I noticed, characters' names are misspelled, and at times I felt like I just wanted to buy this author a bag of commas and tell him to use them liberally. There are more that the author repeatedly got wrong, that are inexcusable errors in my mind. It made me think the writer was young, needs some remedial English courses, or is just extremely sloppy.

However, there are some good storytelling elements in here, so most of the time I was able to take off my Grammar Goddess outfit and enjoy the tale.

It's a deeply-imagined world with magic spilling out of every corner. Trees reveal secret tunnels. Leaves carry important messages to their recipients, then disintegrate. Dangerous creatures abound and the students must learn how to navigate this perilous landscape without getting killed.

It's hard to write about teenagers learning about their magical powers without being compared to Harry Potter. The Four Elements definitely felt like a Potter wannabe in many areas. The school being located somewhere off the grid, similar to Hogwarts. At Michael McCloud's school there is a sport called agility that is an integral part of the culture (Quidditch, anyone?). There are mythical creatures that only exist in this realm. Non-elementals don't see them. Sound familiar?

Ultimately, I think this book tried to do too much and lost focus. The King Arthur stuff should have been more prominent, since this was at the heart of the plot. But it got lost in all of the magic animal attacks and whatnot. Sometimes I even forgot about the King Arthur piece to the story because there would be chapters that went by without mentioning it.

To summarize, because I've rambled on long enough, The Four Elements needs some punctuation, some focus, and then perhaps I would recommend it to the young adult audience for whom it is meant.

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