Tuesday, February 10, 2015
My Review: Dauntless
I almost always love Bethany House's covers and this one is no exception - though I do think the leaves in front of her look a bit computer generated. I also found the title very fitting and enjoyed how well it was incorporated into the story.
Where Legend and History Collide,
One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent
Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.
Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.
About the Author:
Dina L. Sleiman holds an MA in professional writing from Regent University and a BA in communications with a minor in English from Oral Roberts University. Over the past eighteen years, she has had opportunities to teach college writing and literature, as well as high school and elementary classes in English, humanities, and fine arts. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three children. She can be found online at www.dinasleiman.com.
My review: 3.5 stars
Interesting twist on an old favorite.
Dauntless is the first book in Dina Sleiman’s new series, Valiant Hearts. Ms. Sleiman is a new author to me and I since I love historical fiction, I jumped at the chance to review her book. This book is something of a Robin Hood story, though in other ways it is very much departed from that theme. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found I really enjoyed this new twist on an old tale.
I was hooked from the very first page and loved getting a quick glimpse into Merry’s mind and heart in the prologue. I was actually a little disappointed that the book didn’t continue in the same form as it started, but I came to appreciate the author’s approach. The descriptions were excellent and very vivid, pulling me in until I could almost feel the cold ground and hear the wind right along with Merry and her band of “men.” The story was quick paced and I loved that it kept me guessing and wondering what might happen next. It wasn’t quite as suspenseful as I would have guessed, but that actually worked to it’s advantage. I was able to step back and appreciate the characters and setting, rather than being jerked around with too much action. The dialogue was interesting and well done. It was obvious the author did her research and worked to make it quite accurate - the inaccuracies were noted at the end and explained, for those who are sticklers for historical accuracy. My only negative comment here is that there were a couple times where the dialogue departed somewhat from the old English and sounded fairly modern, but it was quickly caught and adjusted within the next line or two.
Merry Ellison is the heroine of the story and I have to confess to loving her right away. She is strong and bold, everything a leader would need to be. She is quick to step up and make her voice heard, but she is also gracious and willingly accepts the counsel of others. Before I make her sound too perfect, she does have her flaws. She is very stubborn and set in her ways. When someone disagrees, she tends to just step over them and claim to be the leader. I was a bit disappointed that we don’t see much in the way of growth in her character. Merry gets caught on a couple specific points and spends most of the book worrying over and considering them. I was really hoping for a decision of some sort, but she stays rather fickle, going first one way then another. Also, there wasn’t much progression in her attitude or reaction until almost the very end.
Timothy Grey is the hero and I honestly didn’t like him much at first. He is very self centered and is determined to do something worthy of notice. His goal is power and recognition, after all he is a ninth son with nothing. I grew tired of hearing this excuse, both from him and Merry. Taking into consideration the setting and time period, I can understand his motivations, but still didn’t care for them. But, he actually did grow on me until I was cheering for him by the end. His character definitely grows and experiences several changes throughout the story. He learns to look beyond himself and his desires, and his way of viewing people takes a drastic turn. I loved seeing his eyes and heart open to the world around him.I actually found the spiritual side of the story a bit overwhelming at times and it is very rare for me to say that. It was once again quite obvious that the author did her research, almost to the point of confusing the reader. I had to dig back in my memory for what I knew on the early church of England from history class in order to keep up with some of the mindsets and opinions portrayed in this book. There were a couple things I disagreed with at first, but Ms. Sleiman does correct each of them using scripture, or in Merry’s case, a basic understand of who God is. I was a bit disappointed that we don’t see more spiritual development in Merry, even though the topic is brought up several times. I’m hoping she will be in the next book and that we might continue to see her mature, both in faith and attitude.
I would like to note that there is a particular word used three times that I personally did not appreciate or find necessary to the story. The villain of the story an illegitimate son of a high ranking nobleman and he is referred to as a “b**tard.” I am well aware that is the original meaning of the word and it is suitable for the time period, but when I saw it, I confess it startled me. The entire rest of the story, he was simply an “illegitimate son,” but then this word just appears seemingly out of nowhere and is in a sentence worded very closely to how we use it now. It was not enough to put me off of finishing the story, but I would caution parents of younger teens who might pick up this book. Overall this was an enjoyable story that challenged my faith and kept me guessing what might happen next. I appreciated the twist on the story of Robin Hood and love the characters. I will be very interested to read the next book and find out whose story is next.
Please note, my opinion is based on an Advanced Reading Copy of the book and any/all of my negative comments may be irrelevant to the final edition.
I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
I hope you enjoyed my review and will consider coming by again! I dearly appreciate my readers who take the time to "stop in" and read my ramblings. :)
If you're interested in checking out the book, maybe purchasing a copy, here are some links to get you started. Though I should note that this book doesn't actually release until next month, so you would be pre-ordering it.
Barnes & Noble