The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr
|The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Fantasy in a faux-historical style from a man of obvious talent so it could be amazing but, sadly, it's not.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 832||Date: July 2013|
A historical manuscript has been found in what is now Germany (so the story goes) chronicling an ancient civilisation inhabiting the fortress city of Broken (or Brocken in the original German). Those who anger the government are cast out into the surrounding forests where they must face the dangers of man-eating wolves and worse. These outcasts can only survive by collaborating and becoming one tribe: the Bane. Although, to be honest, they're becoming a bit of a nuisance with their terrorist ways, therefore Sixt Arnem, Sentek of the Broken Army is ordered to eradicate them for once and for all.
Caleb Carr is an American author and lecturer in military history who made himself ill and socially bereft working on this novel. It's his baby and his passion shows, along with his undoubted writing talent but… Yes, I'm afraid there is one although I badly want it not to be so.
Broken is a great idea, carrying the pretence of a historical document right through to its academic endnotes. There's also the large cast that those of us who love fantasy look forward to these days. Caleb has thought through all of them, building a past that fits into his created world that has taken a lot of research and thought. We can tell because it's all included; there was an awful lot of research and thought.
The story rips along and then we come to Arnem's past. This is so fascinating in its detail that we can excuse Caleb for freeze framing the pace in order to tell us. Once completed it's back to the action and then it all pauses while the author acquaints us with another of the large cast's background and then someone else's and then someone else's… After a while it affects the main story and, for me, it became tedious as I lost patience.
I wanted to love it as much as Caleb's talent and dedication deserved so what would improve it? I don't often say this, but despite it being over 800 pages (including the endnotes), more would be more. If it were a series of 4 or even 5 books with up to 400 pages per volume it would be a wonderful addition to the world of fantasy based on insider-versus-outsider-confrontation/discovery that authors like Ian Irvine excel in. Caleb could rewind right back to the beginning so that we lived each character background with them in real time rather than through flashback, making it a different experience. It would also mean that we would be shown some of the past moments cogent to the plot which works so much better than hearing about them in conversation.
There are so many positives already built in that would translate beautifully to a series format. The action sequences are good and the language upping the dramatic ante in places. I mean, doesn't Daurawah's gates are nearly immune to violation. scream epic while providing famous-last-word tinged anticipation? For other examples, go to the promotional and gawp in awe. The roots of greatness are there.
Please don't be disheartened by the 3 stars Caleb; your baby survived and could have a great 5 star future if considered differently. It could just be that it’s actually a multiple birth.
If this appeals then we can heartily recommend Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.