Review: Sea of Shadow

Be forewarned, this is going to be less a review and more of a rant.

I recently began and finished a book titled The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow. A Japanese high fantasy novel, it was recommended by a friend. Incidentally, it's also been converted into anime form.

Before I delve too thoroughly into the book I'll give some context as to why I am going to be so harsh toward it. Quite simply, the end left me disappointed. I was willing to forget the novel's flaws because of its significant merits, but then it was abruptly over. It was so sudden and incomplete that it reminded me of when someone is in the middle of a sentence and they

I probably wouldn't even be writing this if it didn't bother me so much. The book wasn't good, it was fantastic. The story, the characters and the world were all excellent, though not flawless. What kills me is how amazing everything was right up until the point where it ended.

The story builds magnificently towards a climax that never comes. It opens up thousands of questions that are never answered. For all intents and purposes our heroine checks off box #1 on her list of "epic achievements I need to complete before this story ends", magically checks off box #2 in about two pages of story, and then we get checkboxes #3 through #7 in a brief history-like epilogue that lasts two paragraphs. Meanwhile, we have answers to burning questions #1 through #7, but #8 through #33 are left completely unanswered.

For those of you who have read Tolkien, imagine it like so. What would you have felt like if the story had ended immediately after Bilbo escaped Gollum with the Ring? It's certainly a milestone in the story; a worthy achievement of our shoeless shorty. It is not, however, where anyone in their senses would recommend to stop.

Disappointed probably isn't the right word to describe how I felt when I reached the end. I felt betrayed. Through the course of the book and the revealing of the small, subtle details chiseled into the author's world was the feeling of a promise, a sworn oath of a great story that in concluding would open up the world to greater epics. It felt like the Hobbit; an incredibly engrossing introduction into a larger universe. Then, without much warning other than the waning number of remaining pages, it ended before it was even halfway there.

It is almost as if the author, excited at the prospect of writing the greater epic, cut short the all too important introduction. That or perhaps the publisher wasn't going to wait any longer for the book to actually be finished.

There really isn't an effective way to convey the confusion, mild anger, buzz kill, and other assorted negatives I felt when I closed the book, knowing that it was all over.

I can only sit here and wonder, why is the fun gone?

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