First off, I just want to thank Sara for giving me a poke about her upcoming epic fantasy book and sending an ARC down my way. I wish her all the best on the book’s debut. 😀
TREE OF AGES
Finn doesn’t remember much about her previous life, and in a world that has been changed by the wars of the Tuatha De, where trust is hard to come by, answers are even more difficult to find. Little does she know, an unknown evil tugs on the strings of fate, and the answers she so desperately seeks may be more important than she could have ever imagined.
There was a lot of rich, Celtic background going on in this book, which I actually adored, because I love reading about the fae folk and the Tuatha De. There was certainly a lot of research and folklore put into this book, evident in Aed’s stories throughout the text. So as far as worldbuilding went, I thought it was excellent, and the premise–a woman who used to be a tree tries to find herself amidst the beginnings of a massive war–looks to be interesting going forward.
That said, my feelings towards the rest of the book are lukewarm at best, and most of it has to do with the POVs. There were far too many, especially in such a relatively short high fantasy novel. I think at some point almost every single character introduced had a POV in the book, some only coming up as a couple of pages total and then disappearing again. I didn’t think every POV was needed; as much as I adore female characters, the book could have done without Liaden (because Kai kind of mirrors her viewpoint) and Branwen’s POVs (between Ander and Branwen, I thought Anders had a more interesting viewpoint. Personally, the only viewpoints I really paid much attention to was Finn’s, Iseult’s, and Kai’s (ironic, because I feel the oncoming love triangle between these characters, and I cringe at the prospect).
I didn’t think the characters themselves were fully fleshed out–though this being a series, I can understand withholding much of what makes these characters come alive. Still, I was a little put off by Aed (whose vocabulary later on boiled down to very few derogatory remarks to every. single. character who isn’t Finn). I didn’t see much point in Branwen and Ander until the very end of Ander’s POV. There were other random characters that came in near the last fifth of the book for some reason, which confused me.
The other part of my lukewarm feelings falls toward the pacing of the story. I liked the beginning fine enough: Finn transforms from a tree to a human woman, is picked up by a mystical man much older and wiser than his years, and she undergoes a journey to find out who she truly is. By chapter nine, though, where I expected things to pick up from introductory to action, there was still a lot of talk taking place. I still didn’t know where Finn fell in the grand scheme of things, and while I adored reading the description and stories surrounding Aed’s background and that of the surrounding area, I would have rather experienced those things by reading vicariously through Finn’s eyes.
Things did pick up at the Blood Forest, and I was finally getting some action, what with fae trickery and characters lost in a dangerous wood. That said, it slowed down again soon after, and by the end of it, things got too hectic and confusing, and I came off with many more questions than answers.
Tree of Ages had strengths in the detail and description, and perhaps if the story had been a bit longer, I would have been more endeared to the characters and more invested in the storyline.
2.5 out of 5 cookies!