Book One of the Goddess Training Trilogy
This is a very interesting concept – certainly not akin to anything I’ve read before. And strangely, this is the second book in a row that I’ve read with gods at the core. But more than that – here we have dragons too; and lots of other classic fantasy creatures to think about. Almost all of them in fact. This is certainly a far reaching concept.
I would say that this is a peaceful and sedate read. However, darker sub-texts do reveal themselves and are ultimately unveiled just enough to lead into the second novel, where it sounds like things are about to get a bit nastier. Great! Most of the book is told from Gardenia’s perspective, and being an adolescent goddess, the tone and the trajectory of the story feel very young adult to me.
Now, I’m not averse to a YA book, but for me, this was perhaps a little too young – the tone just a little too immature. And for me this jarred against the scale of the perceived world. But then who am I to say that goddesses are mature and don’t have juvenile fun? In fact, the author has since confirmed that the immature tone is designed, and will mature through the series – great! This may well therefore be perfectly suited to the YA market, and it will certainly appeal to a younger audience (and perhaps the older audience too).
So, what’s this all about? Well, as mentioned earlier, this is about gods and dragons and just about every other fantasy creature in-between. But mostly it is about gods and dragons. We have a young goddess who rebels against her ‘family’ and goes off to find her own way in the big wide universe – searching for her own way to create in her godly image. Ultimately she ends up learning how to create worlds from dragons, and comes to recognise the deeply retrenched animosity between gods (her family) and dragons; which puts her in an awkward position because she sympathises with the dragons. And the Fates are woven into the story too: there is a deeper sub-text cooking away.
Now, there is a lot in this book that is very good, the highlights being as follows:
- Although the voice is generally immature, the last chapter switches perspective to a much older Fate, and the language seems more mature as a consequence. This suggests good writing by the author;
- As already mentioned, the premise is very interesting and certainly unique in my experience;
- There were also nice touches in here, and fine nuances built around the established universe. For example, time takes on different qualities in different circumstances, which adds realism to the ideas;
- The story maintained clear pinch points, and it was never entirely obvious where the story was going, which kept you guessing as a reader;
- There are some really nice turns of phrase in here which brought a smile to my face;
- And there is some nice artwork littered throughout the book.
However, there are also some weaker aspects which deterred me a little. Probably the most serious of the these was that the book needs editing. There were just too many simple mistakes that rattled as I read through, the most severe ones being as follows:
- The use of the word android in place of asteroid (I think this is a simple translation mistake because the author is Russian [or Russian-German-Ukrainian to be precise], but it would be an easy fix);
- There are a few instances of loose instead of lose;
- There are a few instances of repetitive and unnecessary words which draw you out of the prose;
- And there were occasions where the speech of two people occurred in the same paragraph.
Now, a lot of this can be forgiven given the author’s roots, but I’d recommend an editorial to polish these issues out as it may turn off certain readers. There were also a few formatting problems with the version I read, but this could just be a consequence of reading a CreateSpace template on Kindle, so I will reserve judgment on this.
In terms of other weaknesses, I thought the prose lacked some depth. A lot was conveyed through speech and italic first person thoughts, but there didn’t seem to be the scaled depth for my liking – though I think first person is notoriously hard to do, and the depth may have been more natural in third person. Again though, this may well be entirely appropriate for a YA audience. I also wasn’t keen on the 21st Century casual language used by Gardenia and (to a degree) by the dragons. It seemed out of place to me, though to a different audience this may not be a problem.
And there were some scientific references in here which jarred for me as someone who follows (loosely) the scientific world – for example references to the Big Bang. Then again this is fantasy, so what is right? And for that matter, do we know that science is right? So again, one for the individual reader to pass judgment on.
Finally, I personally thought that things were perhaps a little too easy for Gardenia; she always seemed to pick up the challenge easily with only a limited struggle – though she is a goddess so maybe this is right! It meant that there never seemed to be a real ‘danger’ moment where we were turning pages to see what the outcome would be, though it’s fair to say that the danger does ramp up towards the end of the book.
All in all, I did enjoy this book as a concept, though the leisurely pace and the editing errors pulled me away from the story. As mentioned earlier though, the darkness does build, and we are left with a sense of danger and conflict right at the end of the book. So perhaps the real challenge is still to come? We’ll have to find out in the second volume.