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Early Review: Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan

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Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan // VBC ReviewPortal of a Thousand Worlds
Dave Duncan
Published: Feb. 14, 2017 (Open Road)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 2.5 stars

An aging Empress, a group of monks who make murder their main mission, and a ragtag army—led by a crazy man—who are high on drugs and convinced they are invincible. All of this in an alternate version of 19th century Imperial China where politics truly makes for strange bedfellows.

This book is billed as fantasy, though in many ways it comes across as more of a parable like one would find in the Bible. Good vs. Evil, the prophet who travels the land and is revered for his wisdom and goodness, the ending that I shall not describe here…It’s definitely not overtly religious, but it bears some similarity. There really is not a lot that would be described as fantasy, other than the life of the Prophet. The rest is more an alternate universe war tale—something like James Clavell would write, if he wrote alternate history. The setting is ancient China, and it seems fairly accurate, though I cannot say for certain.

The story itself could be described as an epic tale. It’s long, there are a lot of people involved, multiple plotlines, and various generations. It’s not a barn-burner story— everything happens at a very regular pace. The names of the characters are…unusual…to the point that they often jerked me out of the story in order to make sure I was really reading about a person.

The characters themselves never truly grabbed me, though I thought Sunshine the best of the lot. They were perfectly developed, but not worth caring about in the long term. I’m not sure if it was due to the constant switching of viewpoints, or the large amount of storylines there were, but there just were not any connections forged.

Overall, Portal of a Thousand Worlds was a decent book, but not one I would say was going on any of my Top 10 lists, particularly as I struggle to figure out how this classified as fantasy (other than one specific part). Having said that, it has several reviews on Amazon that give it much higher praise than mine, so if what I had issues with is no bother to you? Then I would recommend giving it a shot!

Sexual content: none

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