Review: The Lost Prince
Every so often I run through the list of books I’ve recently read and try to find follow-ups to those I liked. The sequel to Edward Lazellari’s debut novel AWAKENINGS (EBR review) was one that pestered me for what seemed a very long time. I kept looking for something but never saw any news about a sequel. And then Steve plopped it in my lap, and I was absolutely floored when I realized that it has been less than a year since the debut. In all fairness, having a newbie author get a 500+ page fantasy novel out within a year is actually, in my opinion, quite decent. I guess some part of me was just really looking forward to this one.
THE LOST PRINCE is the second book in the Guardians of Aandor series, which is, not surprisingly, going to be a trilogy. This book picks up almost immediately after the end of AWAKENINGS. One of my complaints about that first book was the fact that the story just seemed to stop, and this quick pick-up kind of reiterates that. Looking at things from this side the first two books should probably just be tackled as a single 800-page novel. But seriously, what kind of publisher would have picked up a 800-page debut? Answer: none. Score one for Lazellari.
The plot for the book is surprisingly simple: find the prince. There are the good guys that want to return him to Aandor; there are bad guys who want to inflict death upon him; and there are the nebulous types who are in it for their own reasons. Prince Danel is the prize. But how can a book that is so simple be so great? Well, as they say: the devil is in the details.
All of the previous characters from AWAKENINGS are back plus a few new ones. Cal MacDonnel, the married New York cop who now knows he’s from a noble house, engaged to another woman, and captain of the guard in the fantasy realm of Aandor. Seth Raincrest, the porn photographer who is actually a wizard in hiding is having trouble casting any spells. Daniel Hauer, the 13-year-old accidental murderer of his step-father and heir to the throne of Aandor. Honestly, I could go on for a while with all the characters in this book. Suffice it to say that there are a bundle and they were actually all done quite well. Characterization is one the of the many shining aspects of this book. All sorts of them get point-of-view time: good guys, bad guys, traitors, neutral parties. Each of them were great.
Although, the sheer number of characters frequently got in the way of me being able to follow all of them and keep them distinct from one another, especially with regard to the “bad guys”. This also made the beginning feel like it was moving really slow. It took a good 20% of the book before I felt like the story was progressing. This was due to a bundle of new POV characters and catching up all of the current characters to where we were in the story. The middle half was a great ramp-up though, and by the time the last third to fourth of the book hit, things were really moving.
The end of the book was crazy good. I remember stopping once and finding myself standing in line at the grocery store with my jaw hanging open and realizing that the line had moved a good long ways since I had last noticed. But even with all of the really cool action and back-and-forth between the various parties as they try to find the prince and finally end up converging on him (REALLY good stuff there), the place where Lazellari completely outdid himself was in staying true to each of the stories of the individual characters. It’s the individual characters that drive this story. Seth’s redemption story was especially good for me. Just solid.
There is one factor that I have to point out that might be a big sticking point for a lot of people and that’s the sexual content. The issue is that it involves the prince, who is as you may or may not remember is supposed to be 13 years old. As with all of the other character stories in the book, the time spent with these interactions is significant and detailed. And yeah, it bothered me. The glorification of the deeds was especially evident and overdone. I have no idea why this needed to be in the book. There isn’t a lot of extraneous stuff at all in the story, and I can’t help but expect that the prince’s escapades will come back to bite him at a later date (and thus make these sexual interactions important to the plot of future books), but it all really stuck out like a sore thumb and in my opinion was significantly more than necessary or wanted.
It seems ludicrous to me that Lazellari is writing books that are this good this early in his career. And apparently he’s still got a full-time job external to writing to boot. Will be exciting to see where he goes with things once the harness comes off and he can really spend his time writing. Watch this guy. I expect big things to come.
Recommended Age: Adults
Violence: Not a lot of bloody violence, but most of it is with swords (fantasy world, remember?) so it can get graphic at times
Profanity: Strong but fairly infrequent
Sex: Frequent references by one character (porn photographer) and a couple strong scenes involving the 13-year old prince.
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