To be honest, I did not read through the whole book. I wanted to push through it, but found it as pleasant as growing grass on a Chia pet. The biggest fault of Red Sapphire is the literary style. The character was interesting enough, and the plot was intriguing. The author also handled politics, battle strategy and business dealings with relative ease. The problems had less to do with the story, and more to do with the way it was told.
Firstly, the style of this novel is… what I’m assuming to be Early Modern English for teens. Early Modern English is what Shakespeare wrote with, and results is this weird in-between of modern speak and Shakespearean style. This ‘Old English’ can alienate young adults who would be interested in reading the story.
The characters in Red Sapphire talk in language so refined that the characters sound as if they are wearing monocles while drinking tea in every encounter. Yet, if it was in real Early Modern English, it would alienate young readers but perhaps not older ones. It would make the tale much more interesting and have a certain artistic appeal (in my opinion) if it went ‘all out’ with using the archaic English.
The next problem I have with this book is a bit more infuriating, but I could have finished it had not the style done me in. The author of this book breaks the literary law of ‘Show, don’t Tell’. When an author pens a scene between characters, we should be able to guess by the topic, the tone, and the setting what the author is trying to say. However, R. Gates finds the need to show and then tell. He does a great job of implying things about the characters through dialogue- but then right after that, tells us what it means as if we were too stupid to realize it for ourselves.
Lastly, Linvin himself, although he is a bit less one dimensional, is still a one dimensional character. There is nothing that makes me understand his character or motivations. He is a war general, which mean that he’s good at strategy. But how did he get so great at running his father’s business when it was established his father never taught him? His interactions with circumstances in his life always play out predictably, with Linvin choosing his fists to solve things. Although that is a legitimate flaw, this is his only attribute I can remember. We do not get to know him as a person- just a puppet interacting with problems in a predictable way. For these three reasons, as well as several editing mistakes (periods missing, misspellings and grammar issues) anachronisms (Compound bows being used in a medieval battle) and that ridiculous name, I cannot recommend this book.
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