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No Feast here for the Ale Boy

I received a copy of the book “The Ale Boy’s Feast” from Waterbrook publishing for the purpose of writing a review of the book.  The fact I received the book at no charge has not altered my opinion of the book or its contents.

The book, about an “ale boy” or “the Ale boy” named Rescue, takes place in a fantasy world where the king Cal-raven is missing and there is a general malaise in the land. It also follows the downcast king as he struggles with his inner demons. There are many fantastical creatures and even plants that all seem to have a malevolent purpose to end all of the heroes’ paths at every turn.

Let me say, I wanted to like this book.  I like fantasy fiction, I really do.  I’ve read it since I was a kid (think ages 8-10 as when I started).  I especially appreciate, these days, the type of fantasy fiction that tries to create a world where the world view is in line with Christian principles.  This however was not a book I enjoyed in the least.

First, everything, and I mean nearly everything, has some different name.  When the author was clearly trying to allude to someone cooking bacon, it’s called something else (I don’t remember exactly but it was **** strips, but the missing word was a made up word from the author’s imagination).  Creatures are called by unfamiliar names.  Not just different variations like a **** dragon, but some entirely different moniker entirely.  And the names are nothing like actual names.  Now this isn’t always a problem in this type of fiction.  For example Frodo, Gandalf, Bilbo, etc. aren’t actual names but for whatever reason they are more genuine as names.  This causes (or at least it caused me) to have to try to evaluate too many different words.  Even after I had read a name before and was aware which character it was the combination of unfamiliar name syllables with numerous hyphens in the middle of those names made reading a chore.

I’m willing to grant that perhaps some of the problem was that I had never read anything else in the series.  I was not aware when I started that it was part of a series otherwise I would not have requested it (there is a distinct difference between being set in the same world as another story, and being 3rd or 4th in a series of books).  Perhaps if I had started at the beginning it would not have been so difficult to get through this book.  But as it was it took months to get through it.  Once I put it down I did not want to return to it, I found other things to read.  It was at best unsatisfying and at worst ham-handed.

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