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Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley is a fast paced tale that tries to weave together a multitude of characters and their plot connections to a satisfying conclusion in about 230 pages. The result is that much of the story, and especially the first four chapters, feel hurried along. Having said that, if you are going to try and bite off this much and chew it this quickly, this is about as good as one could do it.
It seems only the bare minimum was given as far as description of the scenery, the milieu, is concerned. That's okay, but then your story has to be about something else. Sacrificing detail and world development for the sake of character development can work if the story and characters are strong and you want to keep the action and the pace of the story moving rapidly. This story is about Trevin finding harps to restore the stairway to heaven and finding the king's missing comains, but ultimately, the story is about Trevin finding himself, what he is made of, and his true identity- including who his mother and father are. Trevin and Melaia's love story is fairly typical given the genre and, because so much is crunched into so little page space, I never felt a strong longing for them to be together. In fact, this is one of my biggest complaints with what is actually an interesting, fairly complex story- it needed to be told with more care, more nurturing, more development. Henley tries to bring some things to boil long before they are ready, and then when the story essentially says "this is a tense, boiling point moment," it almost always fell flat, or the tension is described with the cliche, useless "chills shivered up character's spine like a slithering snake, and character's heart pounded into his throat until his head nearly popped off."
If you are going to tell this story this quickly, you need to set your aims at the appropriate mark. This book is like a very delicious, healthy, savory, microwavable meal that you enjoyed on a stormy Saturday afternoon by yourself because that's what was left in the freezer, and you didn't feel like venturing out to get to that fine restaurant that all your friends went to. The point is, this could have been that high-cuisine-at-a-five-star-restaurant kind of story, if it was about 150 pages longer and Henley developed characters and the storyworld fittingly. If she was capable and willing to venture through the Saturday storm, this could have been a book that everyone would have been talking about, because I think the story itself is that good (by the way, I am not judging this theologically because I do not think Henley means her story, especially the angels, to reflect what Scripture teaches; you can read what she says about angelology here).
I simply do not think it is possible to try and tell such an epic tale in just 233 pages, not a tale that is written for teens or adults. Children may enjoy this more, but some of the themes would probably not be appropriate. I grant that this is part of a series, but nonetheless, this book advances the series and characters a lot as far as what they learn of themselves and what actually happens, but that is precisely the problem. Could you imagine any one of the Lord of the Rings books written in only 233 pages? Or any of the later Harry Potter books? This is not a book for children, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, but it's length is closer to that than even The Hobbit.
In the end, I must give Eye of the Sword 2.5 out of 5 stars. Pros for the plot twists and tweaking some things with angels in an interesting way, cons for the lack of really exploring the storyworld and developing the characters to a point where I much cared when they were faced with hardships, struggles, guilt, and romantic desires.