SPFBO: Spark City by Robert J Power

Series: Spark City Cycle #1Rating: 5.25/10
Date of Publishing: March 1st 2018Genre: fantasy
Publisher: Self-PublishedNumber of Pages: 696

 


Blurb

Erroh has a plan. A simple plan. It’ll never work.

Despite his family’s warrior pedigree, he’d rather gamble and drink while living from one tavern to the next. But when his wanderings bring him upon a gruesome slaughter of innocents he is torn from carefree ways.

Spark City is on the horizon and with it the mysterious trials of The Cull. After a life spent rejecting his birth right, the time has come to pick up his sword and accept his destiny.

With an army marching forward, and unlikely companions buy his side, does Erroh have what it takes to stop the coming war?

Spark City is the gripping first novel in Robert J Power’s new epic fantasy series. If you like spectacular combat, unlikely heroes, and  slow burn romance, you’ll love this thrilling tale.


Jen’s Review – 5.5/10

Erroh, card player and wanderer extraordinaire, has been having a grand time putting off the inevitable, but it’s time to grow up, and he is ready to present himself for the Cull, at Spark City, it is his privilege and his right.

The Cull is an event that happens a few times a year where prospective Alphas  are mated for life – if they are chosen.
Erroh is part of the Alphaline, where his parents have some acclaim. They are select group of elite warriors who have endured education and training; they are the masters in the art of war. In other words, there is a lot of pressure on Erroh to do well.

**

We meet Erroh, in the last legs of his journey before heading to Spark City. There’s some card playing and a big scene where he finds a massacre at a burnt-out town.
I found this whole first part (until we get to the city) rough to get through. Some of this has to do with my total dislike of drop-in conflict scenes to begin a story, and some of it was that no one just says anything; they whisper, yell, boast, beg, exclaim! It’s exhausting. Thankfully, that eases off and it becomes less of a tennis match of reactions or maybe I just get used to it and learn to ignore it.

Once we get to the city, this picks up a lot. Though there isn’t really a lot here story-wise –  the first seventy-percent is the cull and the two mates on the road and the will they get past the hurtful things they’ve said/done to each other and eventually find common ground or will they continue to tear each other down and be oblivious to what’s clear to all of us readers? The bigger plot doesn’t come in to play until the last twenty-five percent and it’s a little thin. In a six-hundred-page book that is a lot of volleying of pride and hurt feelings.

I have to say the relationship stuff was kind of like popcorn – I just couldn’t quit eating it up. It may be a tired trope to some but there’s nothing I enjoy more than an underdog story, and when it comes to romance, this hit a lot of my favourite tropes with strangers marrying, working through their differences and misunderstandings, until they eventually find love. I enjoyed this part the most, I just wish I could have enjoyed the characters more but they fell into that old standby of the catty women fighting over the big strong guy (even if Erroh didn’t know he was the guy).

There are a couple interludes before the big battle, with other people outside of Erroh and company, that show up. But to me they were so out of left field I had to wonder what the point was when we don’t get anymore to do with them until almost the end of the book. I did wish that this back-end plot was a little more balanced throughout because it did seem to be leading to some interesting things.

It took awhile for me to get into this story but once I did it was a fairly quick read considering its size and it was fun in places to see how badly these two mates could continue to misunderstand one another.

Though, I did have a lot of criticisms on the writing, structure, head-hopping etc. this gained some points in its ability to keep me turning pages. If the author can get those problems sorted and merge it with that readability he’s got going in this story, he’ll have something great.

Other notes 

  • I couldn’t help but think of all those romances I’ve read where the Princes of the realm gather to compete for the princess’s hand in marriage. (I love those)
  • If you’re going to use a word as close to “fuck” as you can get, why not just use “fuck”?
  • Nothing takes me out of a book quicker than POV jumping (head hopping) backtracking three pages because I think I missed something – its frustrating as fuk. Scene breaks would be helpful too.
  • Because the Alphaline society seemed to have this wolf hierarchy thing going on with the terms, etc. I halfway expected the result of the Cull to end with Erroh and his potential mate, earning the right to turn into wolves.


Nick’s Review – 5/10

Erroh is a snarky, cheating, unlikeable fellow who has never seen a card game he hasn’t liked. And this is just the introduction to our esteemed main character. It can only get better from there right? Unfortunately it didn’t really get much better, for me anyway. The opening chapter or two of Spark City leaves us with the impression that this is going to be the standard coming of age story where the young rogue sees the error of his ways and grows up to be a responsible and dare say, heroic adult.

This book is very long, not only in page count but in the reading experience itself. I found myself being distracted more times than not due to the fact that certain chapters just go on and on without a good deal of focus. The story is a pretty typical fantasy for the most part and didn’t break any new ground which was somewhat disappointing given the fact that it made it to the finals. I guess I was expecting a whole lot more and what I got was a fair amount of filler and the feeling that this book would have been better served by about 150 fewer pages.

The book follows Erroh on his long journey beginning with a series of trials known as the Cull. Basically the purpose of the Cull is to find a mate for life and only those who are able to best their trials will get to choose that mate. This in itself seemed pretty weird to me and the description of it made me feel pretty uncomfortable as it bordered not so subtly on sexism. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention but that whole part of the book I couldn’t finish reading fast enough and was glad to finally push through to the second half.

Ultimately we get to the point where a great war is brewing and of course Erroh has an important role to play. It just never really clicked with me in any way sadly other than a few moments of entertaining banter or a cool fight sequence here and there. I felt like I was reading 100 books just like it that I have read before in my life. Erroh to me was kind of like a less cool Mat Cauthon and didn’t have a lot of depth or originality. People who like safe fantasy that involves a good amount of quests and a coming of age protagonist theme will probably enjoy Spark City. I, on the other hand, found it to be an average book with precious few great moments.


Timy – DNF

I’m not going to leave a score for Spark City as per our rules – namely, I din’t read at least 40% to be able to form an opinion and hence give a rating. But I still wanted to get some of my thoughts out just for consideration. I’ve lasted 2 chapters before I noped out. I honestly don’t know if the story is good enough, or if there is anything in the main character to like or to cheer for (I don’t suppose there is, but hey, one has to hope). What put me off from even trying to push to the aformentioned 40% was the writing style. When I rather stop reading a book before I throw my Kindle at the wall, then that probably means I wouldn’t have liked it anyway. And let’s face it, I value my Kindle – and my time, not even speaking about my mental wellbeing – more than to force myself to read a book. Even if I’m a judge for a competition.

My issues mainly lied in the style: the excessive use of modifiers, the fake swearing – “fuken” (seriously? Fuken? What are you, a child? I really, really don’t like fake swearing, unless they are done well). That, and for me Spark City felt like a non native English speaker tried to write a book. Also, the one dialogue I read was… awkward and honestly the whole thing just grated on my nerves so much, that initially I gave up even trying.


Belle
: DNF   Jen: 5.5/10   Nick: 5/10   Timy: DNF

Our official SPFBO 5 rating for Spark City:

5/10

3 Comments

  • Victoria Corva

    Oh no! D: Well, that was an unexpected result for a finalist. And very unanimous from Team RockStarlit, which is also always a surprise.

    So this is a fantasy with a werewolf society that uses Alpha theory? I love werewolf stories but Alpha theory grates on me. That’s not how wolf hierarchies actually work, since wolves just live in a family groups.

    Also the fuk thing made me chuckle. 🙂

    Well, I assume this book got higher ratings elsewhere so I’ll look at those reviews as well and compare. Thanks again for your thoughts!

    • Timy

      It’s not a werewolf story, just uses the Alpha hierarchy like one – or at least that’s what I gathered. I obviously didn’t read the book – well, not more than 2 chapters anyway. Looks like the others didn’t like it that much either, so… I guess once again it all comes down to personal tastes. There is always one or two finalists who get the runt of it, but that’s SPFBO for you *shrug*

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