Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Prophecy coverFrom Goodreads:

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Liked:

Best thing about this book hands down- the fight scenes and the use of mythology.  There is a lot of action in this book.  There are quick fight scenes and huge grandiose fights.  It’s nice to have a balance between the two.  I get tired of fights that last pages or fights that are quickly over.  Oh does a good job of mixing the lengths of fights.  As a fan of martial arts, I really enjoyed the technical aspects of the fight scenes.  The type of kicks used are named and that made the fights very descriptive for me.  The characters use different weapons for different types of fights and think through their battle tactics.  Bows and arrows are used when they are the best option, swords when they are best, even spears.  It was a refreshing change.

I loved how Kira could detect demons.  She can smell them and see when they have possessed a body.  There are a variety of demon types and each type gets described, including what kind of powers they have and what type of damage they prefer to wreak.  I also liked that demons can’t be killed, only sent back to the underworld.    It makes the fight against demons more complicated.  You can never really defeat them, only stem back the tide of the demon invasion.  Much of this is based in Asian mythology.  As well as the eight maidens, the water dragon, and other elements.  The mythological base is strong and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.  (Yeah, I’m a sucker for well used mythology.)

Didn’t Like:

Not another trilogy!  This isn’t so much a complaint about this book in particular as it is about the state of young adult fiction right now.  Everything fantasy related has to be a trilogy now.  I would give my arm for a decent one off, or for a story that might be part of something bigger but is self contained.  I mean, the structure of the trilogy is pretty clear.  There are three mystic items that need to be gathered and mastered in order to defeat the Demon Lord.  One is found in the first book, so more than likely one will be found in the next book, and one in the last.  It’s not a bad structure; very traditional.  It’s just that it’s a bit overused at the moment.  Trilogies also take a longer time to develop side-plots like romances than they generally need to.  Things just keep getting drawn out so that everything can be wrapped up in that third book.  It can make the pacing of side-plots very clunky.  So that puts on a damper on my enjoyment.

Kira’s in a love triangle and everyone knows it but her…again.  Okay, you’ve got the mystical warrior-woman, the noble who is attracted to her but whom she finds annoying, and the sweet guy with the mysterious past who first becomes her friend but obviously wants more.  Sigh.  I had every hope that Shin Bo Hyun, the noble, was going to be that obsessive bad guy that the heroin can’t stand and just keeps clashing with.  But then Kira starts to find him strangely attractive and her feeling get conflicted.   Jaewon, the sweet guy with a mysterious past, is a little too attached to Kira.  He meets her once and even then seems like he’s willing to do whatever makes her happy.  He repeatedly tells her that he will do whatever she asks.  But the problem is they barely know each other.  There is no reason given for why he likes her, and no show of growth in his affection.  It’s like insta-love.  Only weaker, so insta-crush instead.  I’m betting this will all develop in subsequent books (remember my problem with trilogies), but right now the romance is weak and kinda creepy.  One guy wants to marry her and spend the rest of their lives fighting for dominance, the other just wants to follow her around and do what she says.

Kira has no handle on her own emotions.  None.  She has no idea that she likes Jaewon.  Her brother can tell, but Kira nope.  She suppresses all of her emotions to a degree where I just want someone to give her a hug.  Kira can’t admit that she wants to be the great warrior of prophecy or that she is the warrior, even when the evidence is staring her in the face.  I can’t tell if that’s because she doesn’t think she is good enough or doesn’t want the responsibility.  She also clearly wants to be the warrior at the same time, but again she won’t let herself realize that until she is forced to accept it to save everyone’s lives.  Kira is out of touch with herself to a startling degree.  The good news is that this leaves a whole lot of room for growth.  I just want her to grow a little faster.

Overall:

Good but not great.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked reading this book.  I’ll give the second book a try.  But after finishing it and thinking about the book, it’s a little on the lite side for me.  Prophecy is a straightforward high adventure story.  There is an ancient Demon Lord that wants to take everything over, political back-stabbing and unrest, and an ancient prophecy on how to solve it all.  This book gets compared to Graceling a lot.  It is not Graceling.  That books is as much a story about Katsa growing into her own person and learning to accept and trust her own powers as it is about the rescue mission she goes on.  Prophecy is more about the mission.  If you want a straightforward adventure book pick this up.

3 out of 4 Throwing Stars

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