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Thirteen Orphans (2008)

by Jane Lindskold(Favorite Author)
3.57 of 5 Votes: 1
0765317001 (ISBN13: 9780765317001)
Tor Books
Breaking the Wall
review 1: At one point, about 320 pages in, one of the characters actually confronts another about the fact that they need to stop talking and do something. Hah, that's unintentional meta for you. The magic system is indeed unique, but I think I would have found it more engaging if I knew anything about mahjong. The characters' backgrounds are more interesting than the characters themselves, and the main character's romantic interests are dinky and frail at best. A good deal of the writing felt YA Fiction - and not in a good way. Even keeping in mind that this is a fluff-filled fantasy and doesn't pretend to be anything but, the sense that the author doesn't have any knowledge or respect for the culture she is presuming to write about feels cheap at best. Really, I probably wouldn't... more bother with the rest of the series if I hadn't snagged the second book at the same time I bought the first.
review 2: This kind of book is the only one of its kind, and I specifically sought it out because it was about the Zodiac. Video games use Zodiac archetypes in spades; literature not so much. And my God, was this a chore to get through.The ratio of story to author-trying-to-convince-you-that-no-really-this-world-could-totally-work is about 10% to 90%. The concept in and of itself is not interesting enough to BE the story, and it is. If you've ever had somebody describe how awesome their idea for a D&D game is, this book reads like that. Heavy on the concept, low on characters you care about suffering and sacrificing. Very few fantasy novels are capable of being concept novels, and while science-fiction might get away with that more often, it's usually in the hands of the greats. Lindskold is just not on that level.The concept is just okay. But it never goes anywhere. There is no story here until about 400 pages, when characters start taking action instead of sitting around having conversations about how magic works, being taught how magic works, and talking some more about how the magic totally works, you guys. I mean, J. K. Rowling never once explains how her magic really, really works, and she got a story out of it. Lindskold collapses under her own story's exposition, and the characters never really struggle with the human aspect of any of their magical responsibilities. There's never any "Holy crap, what!? I don't think I can handle this!" No "I know you guys need me, but I don't care. See you!" Lindskold makes her characters nod and shrug and talk it out, so that she can keep explaining how the world works. For PAGES AND PAGES. The main character walks in the door at the beginning and doesn't have to suffer a setback, a jolt, or a nasty shock to be handed "Magic is real and by the way this is how it works." 400 pages later, no one else we encounter has a vitriolic, stake-changing, heavily-emotional reaction that might drive the story.I was really hoping for some very strong, character driven stuff, with compatible and incompatible signs and strong personalities clashing while the apocalypse draws ever closer. Instead, Lindskold's characters are calm and rational enough to talk the stakes right out of the story. And she explains why her characters are calm and rational, because we as the reader seriously need to know why that's a totally plausible reaction.I didn't need another reminder for why adult fantasy is so ridiculously boring. I was looking for some inspiration, and if anything I discovered how NOT to tell a Zodiac story. less
Reviews (see all)
Interesting idea, but it's very hard to relate to the characters as people and not as caricatures.
Mostly an expository setup for a series, but cool premises.
The most interesting part of this book was the blurb.
Not at Matteson. First in Breaking the Wall series.
Her writing just keeps getting better.
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