Friday, May 3, 2019

Cold Iron by Miles Cameron

Cold Iron (Masters & Mages, #1)Cold Iron by Miles Cameron
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was another random selection from our local library's audio book section. Again, I was disappointed. The overall concept wasn't bad, but the execution of the idea was... awful. I'm sorry. If I ever get around to writing my own fantasy story, I will admit right here and now that I probably won't even produce something half this good, but as a reader, I expect more. One of the challenges is that as readers we consistently have greatness at our fingertips. How can the new writers in the market hope to compete?

As usual, I just paused to look up this author on Wikipedia. Of course, he isn't new. He has a decent bibliography, which leaves me more confused than ever.

Let me add some specifics:
The characters were flat. Aranthur gets a job offer from everyone he meets. He is big, strong, talented, powerful magically, yet humble as a farm boy. Oh, right, he is a farm boy. And of course, the ladies love him. What is interesting about Aranthur as a character? Nothing. He is all plot driven.

Everyone is young, fit, and promiscuous. From the General, to the innkeeper's son. Where are the old, overweight, and chaste? I thought Sassan to be an old drug addict, with a long past as a nobleman in a different culture, but then he sobers up in a few chapters, and before you know it he is another young, fit person who is sleeping around.

Why are all of these people in a fantasy medieval setting using our curse words? Why do we have to call a gun a "puffer", but then hear/read the F-word every other sentence? I read a review that said this book was a great example of world-building, but I don't see it.

The magic system is fairly complicated, which is fine if you get the same level of explanation as you go. I felt that while the magic was compelling, it was too complicated to leave it to a Night-Circus-style "and then there was magic" type of explanation. It didn't have the explanation of Sanderson's Mistborn Allomancy so you couldn't anticipate magical responses and let that be a part of the story.

Finally, to top it all off, a talking dragon and a unicorn show up in this book. A unicorn. That doesn't do anything. And a talking dragon that is treated like an animal in one scene, and then is called on for help in the next scene as if it were a regular ally. And it shows up. And helps. Why? Because all fantasy books require dragons and elves?

So while I did like the potential of this book, nearly 100% of that potential was unrealized. I have never read another book by this author, and in the last 20 minutes I've learned that he has written a lot of books, so I'm not judging his collected works here, but I generally finish every series I start. Its a curse I have. But I won't be finishing this one.