REVIEW: Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

REVIEW: Lake of Skulls by Paul Stewart & Chris RiddellLake of Skulls (Free Lance #1) by Chris Riddell, Paul Stewart
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2004), 136pg
Genres: Action, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal
Source: Bought


Summary:

Behind me, a loud, beastlike roar went up. I turned to see a great hulk of a man — all hairy jowls and heaving gut — lumbering from leg to leg in a slow battle-jig. I recognized him at once.
His fists were clenched. His bloodshot eyes were wild.
“Come on, if you think you’re hard enough!” he was bellowing.
Here we go again! I thought. Why do I always seem to end up in this type of a place? You’d think I’d have learned by now. All I’d wanted was a quiet drink. Was that too much to ask? Was it?
Given the day I’d had so far, maybe it was… (from Amazon)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

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Sometimes I like a good action-movie-turned-book, and sometimes I don’t. Lake of Skulls is, I think, a little bit too much action and a little bit too little actual plot.

It’s a short book, and so it’s hard to cram a lot of plot in there. For what’s there, it’s pretty exciting and, yeah, action-filled. The bit near the end with the hags was especially thrilling. But then, short doesn’t mean one can just dump out all the meat of a story without anyone noticing, and I think Lake of Skulls has a little bit too much meat dumped out. The no-name knight who narrates Lake of Skulls seems to be a typical male lead of an action movie(/book): little feelings, too much ego, and no repercussions for their actions. And since he’s a free lance knight, maybe it’s more like those old Westerns, with a solitary figure running around for hire by anyone who’ll hire him. Eh?

Not that those kinds of stories can’t be fun. I particularly like the detective noir books(/movies) with gritty old detectives snarling out their lines, etc., but even then we get hints of what characters are feeling. Not so much here. Not that I want Free Lance the Knight to get all weepy or anything, but some hint as to what he’s feeling besides scared (as when he’s fighting the hags who are trying to eat him) would be appreciated. You know?

I also had a big problem with the many historical inaccuracies. I actually wrote this whole big thing about Free Lance’s horse and other sundry things but it got a bit rant-y and so I canned it. But rest assured: those historical inaccuracies ruined my enjoyment of Lake of Skulls. (On the other hand, I don’t think I would have even noticed if I hadn’t taken all those medieval classes and even wrote a paper about horses in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, so your experience might be different.)

The art, by the by, was nicely done. Full of big-boobied women, of course, but I wasn’t really surprised about that.

I can’t help but feel that maybe Lake of Skulls is better suited to tween boys who maybe don’t read a lot. I’m thinking maybe my brother, when he was younger, would have liked it. So maybe I’m just the wrong audience?

If you’re looking for a book with extreme historical accuracy, look somewhere else. If you want an action movie translated into a book, and aren’t bothered by nitpicky things like I am, then Lake of Skulls is your book.

Oh snap, giveaway!

I didn’t really like this book, but you might. Win a copy and prove me wrong (or right)! Win it, read it, review it: let me know what you think, even if it’s to disagree (or agree) with me.

Giveaway details:
The book is a discarded library copy, so it’s got all the library paraphernalia on it. It’s in good condition, though, like new except for the stickers and stamps.

To enter, leave a comment on this post stating you’d like to be entered. Don’t forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win! People that don’t leave me a way to contact them will be disqualified from the giveaway.

For
+1 entries, blog about this giveaway on your blog.
+1 entries, Twitter about this giveaway via your Twitter account.
Leave separate comments for each extra entry plus links to them!

It’s a pretty small book, so this giveaway is open worldwide. Yay!

I’ll use random.org to determine the winner. Contest ends June 9, 2009. Good luck!

CONTEST HAS ENDED. Congrats to the winner!

23 Comments

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