Friday, July 16, 2021

Review: Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: May 4th 2021
2021 HarperTeen
Kindle Edition; 576 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062872623
Audiobook: B08RQZV275
Genre: Fiction / YA / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.
My Thoughts
Realm Breaker is a new young adult fantasy by the author of the Red Queen books, and although I wasn't a huge fan of that series, I thought I'd give this one a try without knowing too much about it.  I really vacillated between liking the book and forcing myself to continue as there were times it was a slog to get through.  
First of all, finally a YA fantasy novel with little to no romance.  I am not personally against romance, but the whole love at first sight thing or the love-triangle thing gets me every time.  There were some hints at some possible romance in the future, but it didn't drive the story so I was thankful for that.  
I also tend to enjoy the 'chosen one' trope as it doesn't bother me at all, no matter how often it's done.  Corayne is the last of her lineage, that we know of, and is expected to save the world, but her skills are non-existent when it comes to battle and strategy so I found her character to be quite interesting.  I liked that she had no clue what she was doing and needed to rely on others to help her through difficulties, and there was no sudden magical gift that helps her save the world.
Which brings me to the characters in the book.  I liked the characters in the book and while some of them did some twisty things, there was not enough of that to really capture my interest.  Sorasa was the most interesting of the bunch, but I still felt like I knew little about her towards the end of the book.  So, character development wasn't in great supply throughout the story as the author spent a lot of time world building.  I have no problem with world building, something I love in fantasy novels, but there is a fine line and I think the author has to be careful so they don't lose the story line.  Unfortunately, the story line fell flat for me throughout the book simply because the author spent too much time trying to explain the background when I think it could have been incorporated through dialogue or in a different manner.  It became a slog to read rather than something fun and exciting.   With the variety of characters the author introduced, there was potential for a lot of excitement and a lot of plot building, but I didn't really feel that or get a sense of the characters. 

The story is written in multiple POV, but that is never a bother for me.  I even prefer it when one of the POV is from the villain's as long as not too much is given away so we never lose that tension or dread. The author uses the POV to try and add mystery to the characters, sometimes by backtracking and giving us backstories, but it doesn't always work, at least for me.  I just felt like the story was disjointed rather than seamless.  There were points where I was riveted, then it would get interrupted by something completely different and I would lose interest.  This story was supposed to be a quest, and although we follow the characters through many different lands and areas, the quest gets eaten up by the descriptions and nothing really exciting happens which is why the book was difficult to get through. Yes, they got in trouble a couple of times, but there was no risk, no heart-pounding risk, where you held your breath and wondered how they would get out of it.  And these are the scenes where character, as well as plot, development occur.  None. Nope. Nada.  Boring.

Realm Breaker had a lot of potential, with an interesting variety of characters and strong world-building. I thought the character development was one of the weakest points of this novel, and the author spent so much time on world-building that she sometimes lost track of the story line which made it seem disjointed and frankly, the quest was a bit boring. Would I read the next book in this series? At this point, I am not sure, to be honest.  I think you would have to read this book and judge for yourself.