by Madison Hayes, fantasy (2005)
Ellora's Cave, $5.20, ISBN 1-4199-0307-1
The Tor in Kingdom Of Yute: Tor's Betrayal refers to Tor Harnesson, a handsome stranger that joins a band of rebels of which Spark, our heroine, is a member. She thinks that they have fallen in love while riding horses and all since he puts it to Sparks so romantically, "Thor's Slagbit, I love you." Tor, on the other hand, has a hidden agenda when he tries to join the rebels.
Now, you're probably scratching your head and wondering what kind of rebels I am talking about here. Or whether this is a make-believe world or a magical world based on Viking mythology (since Tor is said to be named after the Thunder God). I have no idea, to be honest. This book is part of a series and there is nowhere in this story where I can get any information on the setting. I can only imagine that the "rebels" are actually thieves trying to make a living at times when the government is keeping the good people down. That's just my guess, by the way - for all I know, these people could be thieves because they see thievery as a lucrative occupation. All I know is that Tor is charged by the people in the Government to infiltrate and take down the thieves. Or rebels. Or something. This is different from those non-standalone books in fantasy series because in a well-planned fantasy trilogy, someone picking up a book in the middle of the series should at least get a sense of the setting and the basic storyline taking place. Here, the world building is scanty and I don't know why the characters are doing what they are doing. A little more detail into the setting and the characters' motivations would have helped. Heaven knows, it's not as if this book is as long as the next Robert Jordan book that the author cannot insert more details into her story.
It's a shame that this book comes off like a few chapters of a much longer book with so many details missing. I like the tone of the story. While the story in itself is nothing fantastic as the storyline has been used in so many romance novels with little variation to the theme, I like the author's voice and sense of humor. However, I'm not too fond of the author's use of words like "date" (as in going on a date) and "fuck" which disrupts the fantasy setting. When these words are used in moderation, I'm fine with it, but when they are used excessively, the mood of the story is ruined and the author comes off as having an unfortunate juvenile sense of humor. I don't think authors of cheeky and irreverent fantasy stories like Piers Anthony have their characters calling each other F words and speaking like Valley girls trying too hard to sound tough, do they?
I don't know how I can review this book fairly since I have no clue what I am actually reading. Won't it make more sense for Ellora's Cave to package this story with the other short stories that make up the series into one book? From Kingdom Of Yute: Tor's Betrayal alone, there is nothing in it to help anyone who purchase this book on impulse to make an educated guess as to whether she wants to read the rest of the series or not.
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