Book Review

J. Kyle McNeal’s BIRTHRIGHTS (BOOK 1 IN THE REVISIONS TO THE TRUTH SERIES)

McNeal, J. Kyle - Birthrights - COVER
Title:
Birthrights (Revisions to the Truth, #1)
Author: J. Kyle McNeal
Format: paperback/eBook, courtesy of NetGalley and Elevate Publishing
Start Date: May 30, 2017
End Date: July 11, 2017
Rating: 3 stars

 

He’d [Stern] realized the Council of Truth itself was a paradox – a well-intentioned but flawed idea. No matter how many revisions were made, there could be no single truth – no single answer to accommodate the diversity of the whole realm. My father and ArWhym failed because their goal was reform. This time, the rebellion will disband the Council and devolve power to the regions. The regions wouldn’t rise for reform. They will for freedom.

Review.

I am so glad I am finally. done. reading. this. book. It took way longer than it should have. Not entirely the book’s fault, since I had other things going on, but I still wasn’t itching to get back to the world between the pages when I was away. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not great.

J. Kyle McNeal’s Birthrights (Book 1 of the Revisions to the Truth Series) tells the story of Whym, who accepts an apprenticeship under the man whose father betrayed his grandfather to the Council of Truth. Along with his master (Stern) and fellow apprentice (Kutan), they go on a dangerous journey to locate the last known Steward, a race who once used to roam the lands but has faded into myth. At the same time, Quint joins the army fighting oat the Fringe, abandoning his religious faith in Bothera. As war creeps closer and plots become more sinister, both Whym and Quint have to figure out their own Truths and where their allegiances will lie in the war.

This book had a very interesting concept. There were sinister plots and hints of magic and races of old that have since faded into myth. Unfortunately, I think it fell short of its potential.

My main problem is that there were so many layers to the book that the overall story became muddled and confusing, at least for me. There were so many characters and plots and places, making it hard to keep everything pinned down mentally. The pacing of the plot was also all over the place. There was not very much buildup of events; instead, things just more-or-less happened and that was that. The characters themselves also weren’t that interesting, and I don’t think their development was entirely believable, either. Often a character’s response to a huge plot twist – e.g. another character’s death – was not believable because they would act like it already happened and really weren’t surprised.

In terms of the writing itself, I will not even mention the author’s aversion to Oxford commas, which was disheartening in and of itself. In addition, some of the language choices were awkward at best, especially when it came to (but not limited by) dialogue. I have highlighted a few examples below.

  • Quint hung near the back, watching the stars play peekaboo through the smoke and clouds.
  • …the seeker placed a finger over his lips to stop him, then bent close enough he could have licked their faces.
  • …saggy bosom…

But for all its quirks, this was a good start to a new fantasy series. The complexity of this book is something readers will either love or hate; I personally liked it, even though I was often a bit confused, but I feel a lot of the confusion will be clarified in subsequent books. All-in-all, I think this will be an interesting fantasy series, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the sequel, Broken Oaths, which is set to be released next year in 2018.

Thank you to NetGalley and Elevate publishing for an advanced copy of this book, both in paperback and eBook format in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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Post Script.

Another, slightly unrelated, gripe I had with Birthrights was the lack of strong, female characters. Yes, there was Kira and Nikla, young Lily, elderly Agnis, who were all interesting and strong in their own rights, but I almost felt that they were afterthoughts. Kira and Nikla, although they showed moments of strength, intelligence, and cunning, didn’t play prominent roles except as (sexual) pawns, seeing as Kira was Whym’s love interest, and Nikla was Quint’s both teacher and love interest. I felt like, overall, these characters existed merely to extend the plot of the main, male characters. However, I would definitely like to see more awesome female characters in the next books!

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