Well, it’s official - I have finally read it! (I know, took long enough - right?!)
However, it did take some incentive for me to push thought it! (I used a gift-card I received for Christmas as a bookmark and refused to allow myself to spend it until I finished the book!) I’ve tried to read it several times, but never seemed to get into it, and the furthest I had ever made it is when they met up with Hubaria at the Siq.
Well, the best way for me to go about this is to go character to character, say a few words about each and move on to an overall statement, so here it goes.
Jebel - To be honest, I did not like him at first. He was arrogant, and pushy, and really - was annoying. I laughed at him when his Father shamed him in public and actually voiced a small comment to myself - “Ha! Loser!” I was expecting less form him really. I never expected him to be anything more than a cocky little bugger, with no respect for anyone but himself and a handful of others, but his change was a bit surprising. I would have liked to see a little more about his internal conflict as he changed with every event that he had encountered, and why he changed his thinking, but staying with his character, he was a bit interesting to follow, even if he seemed a bit “bland” at times. My favourite parts of the book are when he encountered the God of Death (who’s name evades me right now.) it was interesting to see his logic on this one, however, as with most of the book, it moved a bit faster than I feel it should have, but was good none-the-less.
Tel - Oh, he was probably my favourite! He was sly, cocky, and funny. I loved the digs he got in at Jebel and how he masked his words and twisted a lot of what he said to avoid Jebel’s wrath. I am fully surprised however, that Jebel never punished him in any way. I expected a bit of abuse towards him, other than Jebel getting snarly, but it never came. Tel obviously was the brains of the outfit and without him Jebel was doomed. It was clear why he was recommended to go with Jebel, he obviously knew what he was getting into, what he wanted, and had the know-how to do it. Sure, he was doomed from the start, but I was a bit sad to see him go.
Bush and Blair - I quite liked them at first, but was always a bit suspicious of the pair - and rightly so! They seemed cool at first, welcoming, willing to share knowledge, seemed to have a level head and a bit over confident, but I was not really expecting them to do as they had done. Sure, I was suspecting something sneaky and underhanded, but what the did was absolutely a plot twist I did not see coming! I had a good laugh at poor Jebel here, and thought “You had it coming - learn from it!” which in the end - he did, but the end of the pair I was thinking “You had it coming guy’s!”
We did not really see that much of the others in the books, some where more notable than others. Bas was one that stuck out, as I was reading, I always knew he was going to end up with her, it was a bit too obvious. The way she was spoken about, and her name was a huge clue on that part. But had I been in the book and observing the smugness of Debbat and how she thought she was “Queen Bee”, and when she was shot down by Jebel after his victory, I would have smirked. The others within the story had minimal focus, which I found worked rather well. We learned enough about each individual and group to see where influences and decisions came form, but it was not over done to the point of “Beating a dead horse” . When we learned about cultures and varying practices, I had a good bit of interest in that! It was nice to see development not only in different towns, but in Jebel, as he came to realize, maybe his culture is not the best, and could do better if he returned.
The parts with the Gods in the book where probably my favourite. Not only did we get to see the world from another perspective, but we got to see how everyone was technically right. This book pushes a strong point, and for that, I enjoyed it. It pushes a message we should all learn (Intentional or not) that we should really open our minds and look at the bigger picture. Sure, things matter, but in the end, what is really important?
One of the absolute horrid parts of the book had to be the cult. I’ve always had a strong stomach, and have seen, and read far worse than that before, but there was something about that part that made me actually physically gag! When the girl was digging into her own flesh, to the bone it repulsed me! Maybe it has to do with an experience of mine, when I actually injured myself and saw my own skeletal structure, but I just couldn’t handle it - and that is saying something! Overall, I found the cult more strange than anything… Sure, they where a cult of Religion, and Religious cults do some odd things, but this one seemed a bit false really, I was fully expecting the revelation that it was all a lie, and the leader was just a twisted sadist - which was partly true, and the leader of it coming back in the end really added to the whole story.
The end I found enjoyable, I would have liked a bit more focus on the tournament as it was such a huge event and really the reason for the book, but we can’t be too picky right? I was glad to see that Jebel had changed, and realized there was need for change, but I would have like to see him keep a bit of his brutal ways. I found he initiated change to quick, and that is what brought it down a bit at the end. The real kicker was that I spoilt the real twist at the end for myself. I really have to stop doing that… (But I vowed myself that I would not read a single topic/topic title in this section of the forum until I had read it - and I stayed true to that!)
Overall, this book was rather enjoyable and I kind of regret not reading it back when I bought it, I should have read it then! Even though I seem a bit nit-picky in my overview, I would still give it an 8 - 10 and would recommend it to another!