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Review: The Summon Stone by Ian Irvine (The Gate of Good and Evil #1)

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The Summon Stone by Ian Irvine // VBCThe Summon Stone (The Gate of Good and Evil, #1)
Ian Irvine
Published: May 17, 2016 (Orbit Books)
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

The Merdrun: a race destined to bring death wherever they go. Their goal: to find a planet they can call their own, aided by blood and destruction. The planet they have chosen, Santhenar, contains The Summon Stone—the gate between worlds that will allow them, even aid them, in their world domination.

More living than not, The Summon Stone is finally awakening—and it is corrupting everyone and everything around it. Now it needs to be destroyed, or the coming evil will overwhelm everything. In the midst of the chaos are Karan and Llian, and their nine-year-old daughter Sulien. It is Sulien who has a sleeping vision of the destruction that awaits them all, and Sulien, who turns out to be a target for the magic fueling the Merdrun’s attempt through the gate.

When I began reading The Summon Stone—and right through until after I was finished—I wasnt aware that this new series is set in a world from a prior series by the same author. That explains a lot of the frustration I was feeling during the book, when events were often discussed that left me feeling like I was missing a lot of information. More than once, I felt the need to check and make sure that this book was, in fact, the first in a series. I have no problem with further series’ being set in a world from a prior one—in fact, it can be amazing—but it should be done well enough that the next series either stands well on its own, or the explanations in the book make sense and don’t leave the reader feeling like the cool kids gathered to discuss and left them out.

The overall plot was interesting, though it often felt a bit overdone—stretched to the point where my ‘suspension of disbelief’ simply couldn’t be suspended anymore. Far too many factions were doing their own thing without any knowledge of the others, yet things just…worked out. Part of what made it more complicated than it felt like it needed to be was the massive quantity of characters. There are a lot of them, and they’re all moving in different directions, working on their own.

The characters themselves were quite well fleshed-out, though to be honest, the two main characters were more than a little annoying. Llian was the worst, constantly making bad decisions that he KNEW were bad, and that then caused more havoc for him and Karan. It started to feel like one of those horror movies where someone runs into the woods because THAT’S THE PLACE TO HIDE, except the killer has previously killed all of his other victims there, and so…death. Karan wasn’t quite as bad, but she tended to feel less like the sympathetic-mother-who-will-do-anything-to-protect-her-child, and more like an-always-angry-unsympathetic-wife-who-also-needs-to-save-her-kid.

Basically, The Summon Stone has a lot of issues. I can hope that this is just because the author was trying to inhabit a familiar space with new people and a new story, so everything in the first one is foundation? I won’t know, because I will not be reading it.

Sexual content: none

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