Trial of Chains is the first book in the Crimson Crossroads saga by Sohan Ahmad: Two brothers, one a slave, the other destined to rule, are separated by a tragedy born of secrets. One young noble is orphaned by the assassination order of a jealous queen. All of them fall into a life of fighting and blood. Will any of them find peace? NOTE: I’m still reviewing this book because I’ve read it, but it’s out of print at the moment.
Character: I thought the characters were all very sympathetic and memorable. I liked this cast. I’m very done with the dark “everything is murder, blood, and horror” fantasy angle, but this story had a very “Game of Thrones” feel. The author did a good job of revealing each character’s motivation.
Exposition: I thought this was done well. There are some parts that lagged, and the biggest issue was less about the exposition of plot points and more about occasional soliloquies which felt more like author soap boxing. Still the action and drama of the characters kept me engaged.
Worldbuilding: This wasn’t as broad as I’d have liked. It wasn’t extremely lacking. I am aware of the politics and some of the geography, but I didn’t get the immersion I really wanted from a story like this. I don’t know how many words this book was, but I needed another two or three thousand to give me some context and history. The people were real, and that’s what matters most. However, the locations felt hollow to me.
Dialogue: This is an area of improvement for the story. The dialogue felt wooden and more like the author trying to push the story forward than actual conversation. As real as the character’s motivations were, their dialogue felt even more off to me. Not all of it was terrible, but there were a lot of segments were the things said were more like “move stage right,” or “the characters have to get to this next location.” There were signs of potential though. The conversation between the king and his son was exactly what it should have been.
Description: This was good. It wasn’t too much, which I appreciate, but I don’t think there was enough. I needed to feel the locations more, and I needed to have more senses activated. There was a scene where a sword master was fighting in the woods. That had the amount of description and perception I want. There were reasons for that. The character had an issue which limited his ability and the author had to account for that in the description. I wish he’d used more of that mindset in the rest of the story.
A note on metaphor: So while writing this review, I couldn’t remember why I actually didn’t care for the book. Then I read my own summary and realized it. This author has potential (or had if he’s chosen to step away from the craft), but he used far too many metaphors far too often, especially in fantasy. I was flat out confused sometimes because I didn’t know if I was reading description or metaphor. This book also had too many proofreading issues. Again, I don’t normally harp on this. I’m not anywhere near perfect, but when there are more than five typos per page, I can’t help but notice, and it can’t help but drag the story down.
Overall: This story was entertaining despite its issues, but it would have been great if those issues (just the proofreading and removal of useless, confusing metaphors) were addressed. Still, if you like the battle and fighting portions of Game of Thrones, this book isn’t such a bad read.
Thanks for reading