It's unfortunate that I can't recall enough about this book to form a useful opinion about it. The things I DO remember (the search for the amulet, the insta-love, something about how the Sight works, a kind of, sort of working comprehension of Lark's role in this world...) don't even seem all that significant to me. And I'm disappointed mainly because I had been looking forward to reading this book because of all the high ratings and the summary. I saw reviews that praise the beautiful writing and the creative world and the wonderful storytelling...
But I was a little less than impressed.
As far as I can understand, Lark Carew sets off on a journey that she must go on alone (because of
reasons signs given to her in prophetic ways), to find the Riders who are supposed to come back to her village with her and save them from a Troth invasion. But upon reaching the Riders in the Hills of Tarnec, she is knocked out by a "beautiful man" the likes of which she remembers dreaming about in a vision. Then she's whisked away to see the King of these people and finally told that she's something like a Guardian who is a necessity to both sides of the Balance: only a Guardian can protect and hold an amulet and only a Guardian can destroy one. And due to some sort of past issue with the people in Tarnec, all four amulets have been stolen and so it will be her duty to go and retrieve them.
And so the journey begins.
And as much as I love adventures and high fantasies, this particular one was just so long and drawn out with overly convenient occurrences and plot twists and allies and everything that the story pretty much just ended up fairly boring and monotonous. Not to mention that the way in which the book was written was pretty exaggerated as well... and wordy. Unnecessary scenes are drawn out that neither take away from or add to the central story. The entire introductory of the story itself lasts about 30% of the book before we even know what direction the narration is taking us. Paragraphs and sentences are drawn out with abundance in redundancy.
Case in point, here is one particular sentence that stands out in my mind:
And then I heard the splash from the pool--the sound made when an object is plunged in water.
Yes, thank you. Because I thought a "splash" was the sound of two hands slapping myself upside the head.
Information is repeated, over and over and over again... up until the point where even I can recite the most important moral of the story and am starting to wonder why Lark doesn't get it yet. I mean, apparently she's supposed to "trust" herself and know exactly what to do without being told how to do it. And you know... just do it and "trust yourself", because that's definitely the answer to every question as well as the go to slogan for when you're facing off with an evil witch who's about to skewer you. Just "trust yourself".
I'm not sure the concept can get any more vague than that.
The language of the narration was hard to grasp because it just felt disjointed most of the time. At first I didn't think much of it until characters started flinging random medieval words and phrases and such into their dialogue. The "'twills" and the "'twas's" and the "nay's" and the "'tis's" were just all over the place, all at random, inconsistently used, and just seemingly out of place. One second the language would feel slightly modern, then the next second, someone would respond with a "Nay!" and I'd get this twitchy feeling.
As for Lark, herself, she's so hot and cold and contradictory that I couldn't keep up with her. She's definitely a Mary Sue, for all intents of story telling--there is absolutely NOTHING she does that could go wrong and everyone loves her the same; she's beautiful despite being "different", and she's special. But at the same time, she's a cowardly wimp who spends a good portion of her time going from hysterical, ignorant crybaby to confident, omniscient Guardian of Tarnec. And just so we're all still aware that Lark is a chosen one everything around her easily falls into place to readily further her journey's progress despite the fact that she is extremely slow to both accept her destiny or even understand how to use her powers.
Gharain (in the simplest terms) is an emo drama queen who needs to get over himself. And then he does and all of a sudden he's just a boring, monotonous background character who happens to be the love interest. And aside from journeying with her, I'm not sure he does much good anyway... I mean, he gets dragged off by Troths in order to protect Lark... except that the Troths are instructed NOT to kill Lark because she is a necessity in the Grand Evil Plan and she has to remain alive... so that scene seemed a little senseless to me.
Other such strange happenings occur that make you wonder at the senselessness of it. For instance, the Riders of Tarnec and the Keepers, and the entire castle at Tarnec are in place to protect--to protect the horses, to protect the amulets, to protect the guardians... etcetera, etcetera... Trespassers are supposed to be be killed off on sight... but then if they make it to the castle... they are welcomed... with dinner and maidservants, and a bath...? What kind of twisted logic and good defense strategy is that?
How is that a good idea?
There is no love triangle (except of Lark's own hallucinations), but there is insta-love, of the "I dreamed about him and am now in love with him" variety. Except that, when she dreamed about him, he was in the midst of killing her. So... yeah... swoon-worthy...?
But for all it's worth, the romance itself was kind of lukewarm and a lot of the angst was "Lark-induced" anyway.
The story's progress was fairly forward and quick. After the initial dragged out 30% introductory and the adventure begins, everything else seemed to start falling into place without unnecessary tangents. So for a while there I was hopeful that the story would pull itself together long enough for me to reassess the 2 star rating that I had already given it. And for a while it wasn't so bad. But then we come to the last stretch of the book and we pretty much get deus ex machina at every plot point.
We get to the ending, finally, and it just seemed to fizzle into a very meh kind of "The End".
So in the long run, this turned out to be an extremely mediocre book overall. It's not like it was absolutely terrible, but it wasn't really all that great either. I just didn't like it as much as I had wanted to like it, and that comes as a big disappointment.