Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell

Dorcas Slythe is a beautiful girl who has been treated miserably by her puritan family all her life. She knows no joy, no fun, no happiness. Her father believes he must beat the sin out of her and her brother, jealous of her wholeness, is a vindictive little swine who’s happy to see her suffer. She has nowhere and no one to run to, so running is out of the question. Then, one day, as a forced marriage looms ahead, she discovers there is a covenant and a seal, which rightfully belong to her. They both bring power and wealth, but all is not well for Dorcas as there are many out there who seek to claim both the money and the power for themselves. In order to reach her goal and be free, these men will have to be defeated, which seems like an impossible dream for Dorcas.

I bought this book a while ago after having read another blogger’s review (sorry, I’ve forgotten whose it was). I had it for a good bit before starting it and couldn’t remember exactly what it was about when I did finally get to it and was surprised to find myself listening to a book about puritans. It’s a subject I would normally run miles to avoid. I couldn’t believe I’d purchased such a book, but the reader had a pleasant voice and I figured I’d paid for it, I might as well give it a chance.

It didn’t take too long for me to get sucked in. The prose is excellent, the characters believable, the story intriguing. For a long while, I was riveted. Why don’t I sound more enthusiastic you ask? Well, the book started off really well, unfortunately, two things happened, the first was that there was just too much drama for my taste. I think I went off cliff-hangers completely after having watched the first season of 24 with double episodes. I just got tired of all the OMG, more mortal danger!!! of the thing. I’ve found I’ve taken the same attitude towards books now. I find the whole, mortal danger-happiness-mortal danger pendulum tedious and usually just wind up feeling like I want to scream at the author to get on with it already and knock off the whole drama queen thing. The second thing was that I could see where the plot was going. OK, not the precise how, when, why and with whoms, but the rough outline was there in my head and it was pretty accurate. I guessed too much of what was going to happen before it did and couldn’t just sit back and enjoy the book as I would have liked to do.

I should add that Dorcas really made me want to constantly slap her for her helplessness, even though her character was probably more accurate than the strong heroine I would have preferred. I think that I personally would have dealt with the mortal danger pendulum better had she not been so wishy-washy, but then accuracy would have suffered.

Again, this leaves me with a dilemma: how to rate the book. Like I said, it was extremely well written - it reminded my quite a lot of Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, even though the age and story where completely different – and it really is a good book; my dislikes base more on my personal preferences than on the quality of the book. So, looking at what the book is supposed to be, I’ll give it a 5 out of 5.

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