Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Seventh Tower - The Fall by Garth Nix

First published in 2000.

Tal has lived his whole life in darkness. He has never left his home, a mysterious castle of seven towers. He does not see the threat that will tear apart his family and his world.

But Tal cannot stay safe forever. When danger strikes, he must desperately climb the Red Tower to steal a Sunstone. He reaches the top…

…and then he falls into a strange and unknown world of warriors, iceships, and hidden magic. There Tal makes an enemy who will save his life—and holds the key to his future. (bn.com)

I. Am. So. Lost. I’ve never read a book and come out this disoriented before. Holy crap. Right from the beginning you’re shoved into this world with weird names being thrown at you, many without any kind of explanation so you’re left to try and figure out just what this something’s supposed to look like but you have no idea because it could rightly be anything. That . . . was a huge turn off for me. Immediately I’m supposed to know what all of this stuff is, what’s going on, why it’s so important to get into Aenir. And I don’t. I’m just told that’s how it is. Therein lies the major flaw.

It doesn’t say why it’s so important to get a Sunstone and be able to get into Aenir. The book just says you have to and it becomes Tal’s life journey from the moment he finds out his father’s missing. He has relatives and this Sushin guy that treat him like a steaming pile of crap without any real reason. Apparently there was some shenanigans between Sushin and someone in Tal’s family and he’s taking it out on him. Mature. As for the female relatives, I have no idea why they’re bitches, but they are. I did feel a little pang of anger at how they were treating him but that was pretty fleeting.

It also seems that young Tal has a bit of a superiority complex, not to mention a huge amount of selfishness. The complex could rightly be a product of his surroundings. It seems that’s just how this world lives. But damn is this kid selfish. He considers leaving behind his guide, a warrior girl that’s really no older than he is (about 13) to die in the cold but decided not to not because he thinks it’d be wrong and she should be saved, but because of what other people would think of him. Commendable, I tell you. O_o The thing is, he seems like a really bright kid who should know better. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t want to get her a Sunstone so he considers leaving her behind all the while attempting to convince himself that she’s part of the Underfolk, despite the evidence to the contrary, and she should be treated as such. And he’s the head of the family? I just don’t find this likable in a character. I’m hoping for some sort of redemption in the next two.

I’m still trying to figure out how, after the fall, Tal ended up so far away. I understand his shadowguard (which acted like a deus ex machina) glided him down to safety but from what it reads like, it’s like he was hundreds of miles away. And what the *^%^*& is a stretch? Saying it’s almost the length of Tal’s arm doesn’t do me any good because I have no idea how big the kid is. Some 13 year-olds are enormous. So when the tower was 100 stretches away . . . no idea. I could guess but is that really where my energy should be focused when reading a book? Or trying to decipher their units of measure because it’s constantly brought up but never really explained?

If this weren’t one of those three books in one deals, I wouldn’t be reading on. The end of the book ends on what is rightly a chapter mid-book, not the end of the first story which I find kind of annoying. Like how Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed together and the end of the second looked like someone in the editing room with a pair of scissors picked a place and snipped on the reel. That’s how this one ended. Ick. And the thing is, if the book has to come out and force the idea that Tal has grown, he really hasn’t. I didn’t see it although I was told he did.

Sure, it was a really fast read. Really fast. But it’s empty. There’s a fair amount going on but like I said, I’m expected to understand the context of this world without any kind of basis for comparison and that really has me thrown. I understand you can’t take the time to go into great detail about your world in order for readers to get it but for the love of god, just give me something. Anything! It’s a 14 point font with 2 inch margins and 196 pages. I’m sure there’s some wiggle room there. Sure, I get it. I get what a Sunstone is. I get those testing things Tal has to take but it’s like walking into a tribe in Africa and just expecting to know and understand what’s going on. Sure, you’ll get it eventually but on your first day, it’s not going to mean much. And that’s what happened here. It’s consistently my first day in the tribe.

The writing was kind of eh as well. It was kind of high falutin and it reminded me of my own work, the beginning of it anyway, when I was aiming for something that the story shouldn’t have been. Are the stilts really necessary? I’ll read the next two but only because they’re attached to the first. I don’t see any other reason to keep going.


Anonymous said...

Bummer doodles! Only a 2 bite book. I wonderful if Jimmy would like to give it a go. I'll pass the info over to him and see.

Steph Su said...

Hmm. Guess it was a good thing I didn't end up getting this when I saw it at the used bookstore this weekend! Although I've found that this is so with most of Garth Nix's books. I remember when I first read Sabriel, and I was SO lost. But then it got good after the halfway point. Hah!

Donna said...

J.Kaye, it does get better but this first one is a bit much to trudge through. If he can get past it, I'm sure he'd enjoy it.

Steph, I haven't read anything else by Garth Nix so I don't have any basis for comparison. I guess he has a comfort level there! It didn't get better through the book but through the series. At least for me.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog designed by TwispiredBlogdesign using MK Design's TeaTime kit.