I’ve known S.M. Carrière for a little over a year now I should have read one of her books earlier.
Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince is an otherworld novel in line with Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Fairy series by O.R. Melling, or Jack of Kinrowan by Charles De Lint.
It borrows heavily from Welsh and Irish mythology to make a well-rounded and fascinating world.
There were a lot of characters in this novel but it didn’t distract from the main characters’ story arcs. I really enjoyed watching Ethan’s development from listless jock to Battle Prince. It was so well done that until I thought about it I didn’t see it happening.
I also liked the unabashedly strong and intelligent women in this book. It’s not easy to write a female warrior without falling into stereotypes. S.M. did it extremely well.
I didn’t like
There were a lot of characters and a few of the secondary ones felt like they had interesting stories to tell but never really got the chance to develop. O
There were two that bothered me the most. First was a character called Mitch, who was friends with Ethan. Their seemed to be more to the character and his odd submissiveness but his story ended with a handshake and a nod.
The other was a character called Joseph who was introduced around two thirds into the book. He was interesting and worked as an emotional foil for Ethan but felt like he didn’t need to be there.
The role that Joseph ended up playing in the end of the book was what I expected of Mitch after a step character arc.
For characters, I give it 3 out of 5
The ease with which S.M. weaves mythology into her story is impressive and she manages to avoid info dumping by giving us tiny details throughout.
I particularly liked her use of vocabulary, in many otherworld novels or urban fantasies, the other keeps a very standard language akin to a hardboiled detective style. S.M. keeps the book’s voice in a tongue-in-cheek fantasy style that works perfectly with the story.
One of the strengths in this book is S.M.’s ability to write convincing dialogue. Each character has a unique voice that rings true and it makes it easier to follow which characters are which.
I was definitely taken back to a time I lived with three other guys during university.
I didn’t like
On TV, in movies, and in books I find great pride when I understand the language that the main characters don’t. However, when the opposite happens and I don’t understand, I feel kinda dumb. This book has a healthy dose of Welsh and Irish throughout. At times the conversations are long. Never do they last more than half a page but it still frustrated me.
One the other side of the coin, the author did put a translation for all these scenes at the back of the book. If I had noticed I wouldn’t have minded. I think the translations might have been better as footnotes.
I give it 3 out of 5.
The story was a standard otherworld story but inversed. Instead of a regular everyday person falling into another world, a Queen fell into ours. I liked the inversion and I liked how well the character handled herself, it’s easy to think she’d panic and go nuts but she dealt pretty well.
Typically this story end after the character returns, or chooses not to return, to their own world, quite often with plot points dangling, and irritating me. The story reached that point and then proceeded to give us some extra action and extra story.
I didn’t like
The story was well crafted and other than the Mitch thing, there were only a few things that frustrated me. I felt that it was a little too neat at the end. I felt like too many people got what they deserved and all was right with the world. It rang true but it also felt like the author didn’t want to wright a sequel and made sure she didn’t have to.
I give the story 4 out of 5
The book was entertaining throughout. S.M. really knows how to keep your interest. Even through the parts that should have been slow, it was still fascinating.
I also liked the extremely subtle inclusion of herself. A character talks a lot about her roommate and I’m fairly certain that roommate is the author.
I didn’t like
This book was fun through and through. If I were to give it a fault it would be that it was a little too addictive.
I give it 5 out of 5 for fun
Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince is the perfect otherworld novel, with enough twist and turns to keep an aficionado of the genre happy. I’d happily recommend this as a “gateway drug” to fantasy novels.
The author weaves convincing character arcs with mythology and wonderful storytelling.
I highly recommend getting this book and devouring it. It’ll leave a smile on your face.
Final score is 75%
What a joyous, fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and couldn't have asked for a better light hearted romp through Ottawa. Before I go further I will divide my review into two parts. The critical review where I will look at the book from a critical perspective and the expected review where I will look at the book from what I was expecting to read.
Critical Review: From a critical standpoint this book is average. It has a bunch of plot holes and largely one dimensional characters. None of the characters really grow or change. There are no overarching moral quandary for the main characters to overcome and frankly I was cheering for the Fir Bolg because they seemed intelligent and cunning. The human characters are silly, bumbling and ultimately seem to win purely on luck.
Score: 2.5 out of 5
Expected Review: I went in with the expectation of a light, fun book that would be perfect for reading by the fire on a cool winter night. Sure the characters weren't as developed as some others but I wasn't looking that. I was looking for a really enjoyable story filled with action and magic and this book delivers in spades. From the opening pages of the book the pace is set and never slows down. You will be involved in a race through both a modern city and a distant land that will keep you turning pages. If you are like me you will be cheering for the Fir Bolg the entire time as they cunningly spin trap after trap winning fight after fight. I loved the book and as long as you are looking for a wild, fun romp you will love it too.
Score 4 out of 5