On “The Legend of Eli Monpress.”

Hello, world. As promised, here is my review for Rachel Aaron’s series “The Legend of Eli Monpress.” The series is comprised of three books- The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, and The Spirit Eater, with a fourth entitled The Spirit War set to come out sometime this year (my friend knows the exact date but I can’t seem to find it at the moment. I’ll edit this when I do.) I came across the series when a friend of mine recommended it to me and checked out the sample on my nook.

This review will cover all three of the currently released books. As usual, spoilers are possible, and will be marked with SPOILER!! and End Spoiler so they can be avoided if you wish to.

Pros

Great Story: As far as fantasy novels go, this one has a very good plot and is very well developed. The magic system is nicely planned out and the events make sense rather than being completely random and illogical. It’s a very enthralling story and quite original as well.

Reading Level: Don’t get me wrong; I’m still a huge fan of all the young adult fantasy novels, but it’s nice to find something like this series that’s more geared toward adult reading level. Especially considering that, in the author’s own words, most people thing “adult fantasy” translates to “porn and smut.” It’s refreshing to have something closer to my reading ability that A) isn’t boring as all heck and B) doesn’t involve steamy sex scenes every other page. I read for story and not for smut, so this was right up my alley. The higher reading level did result in me taking much more time to read these books than most of the stuff I read (about a month and a half for all three books) but it was totally worth it.

Characterization: The characters are so endearing! Eli’s motives made me laugh in the first book, fall in love with him in the second book, and temporarily hate him in the third book until all was resolved. Miranda’s steadfast devotion to her morals made me like her despite her desire to capture my favorite character. Josef and Nico, with their devotion to each other, made me root for them through thick and thin. Altogether the characters were wonderfully realistic. (And Rachel Aaron, if you ever read this, I too love Marion the Librarian! As a bookworm, I love to see characters like her helping out, and let’s face it- the way her name rhymes with her job is just super entertaining. I could say it all day!)

Eli: Okay, so I know I just did characterization, but I have to put this in here. It’s kind of odd, but for some reason I’m drawn to characters who are just a little odd. Eli fits this description perfectly. Just look at the name of his hometown (I won’t put it here to minimize the spoilers) or his seemingly suicidal desire to increase his bounty! His eccentricities make him endearing, plus his serious side makes him human. It’s a beautiful combination.

Lack of Romance: Again, I’m not denouncing books with a central romance, and I’m not saying you can’t read into the Eli books (I sure as heck do!), but it doesn’t hit you over the head with “mushy-mushy-goo-goo” every four pages like a lot of today’s fantasy. Just a personal preference.

“The Big Reveals”: A lot of times, if books have a few huge things to reveal about characters, they’re evenly spaced out in the book or even the series so you get “cool-down” times between shocks. Rachel Aaron does a good job of throwing this convention to the wind- in the first book, several fairly large events happen almost back-to-back toward the end, and in the second book, you don’t even get thirty pages in before a revelation of fairly great magnitude is thrown at you. This again brings me back to the word that seems to fit this series well- Refreshing.

Cons

Slightly Predictable: It’s not the whole book. There’s plenty of things that I never saw coming but SPOILER!! it was revealed at the beginning of book two that Etmon Banage was Eli’s father, I wasn’t remotely surprised. The same was the case for the “Sara” revelation- both had enough leadup to be easily spotted. End Spoiler Maybe the intent was for it to be extremely obvious, but it’s one of those things that I’m just not fond of. The abruptness and the motives some of these reveals brought, however, compensated for their predictability.

Typos: Unfortunately, the books are riddles with typos, often in the form of skipped words or grammatical errors (i.e. “plain of existence”). As a reader who visualizes quite vividly when reading, and a total closet grammar nazi, I find this sort of thing terribly distracting, which is a pity when the story is as good as this one.

Character Name Mistakes: There were at least two times where characters were called by incorrect names, and another where the name was merely misspelled. If you’ve read my Artemis Fowl review, you know this drives me nuts. The simple misspelling (“Eril” spelled as “Erol”) was easy enough to overlook, and in the case where Miranda’s fire spirit Kirik was erroneously referred to as “Karon” (the name of a lava spirit who also appears frequently), the mixup was easy to understand, but the sudden and rather unexpected replacement of “Alliana” with a name I’d never seen before (I don’t quite recall what the new name was and I don’t own the books to look it up) was just plain perplexing.

Rachel Who?: On the date I wrote this blog (2/18/2011) I went onto Wikipedia and searched “Rachel Aaron.” No results. I then searched “Eli Monpress.” Again no results. Moving on to deviantART, which in my experience has fan art for everything imaginable under the sun, I searched “Eli Monpress.” Two results- the wanted poster I created and the figurines I created. So clearly, nobody’s really heard of the books. That, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing, and the only reason I’m including it on my “Cons” list is because this means the books might be a little hard to find. For example, my local Barnes and Noble did not have them four days ago, and they have pretty much everything. However, it is available as a nookbook, and you can find it on Amazon, so if that’s your thing, you’re set.

Overall Opinion

These books have a great story and wonderful characters, and are actually aimed toward older readers for once. The quirks are refreshing and keep the reader’s attention. Unfortunately, there were several editing issues which can distract from the actual meat of the story. If you’re looking for a good fantasy series with a unique story, and can look past the typos, definitely check these books out. If you, like me, are bothered by editing issues, I still recommend that you give them a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to suspend your inner editor. Thank you, and good night/morning/mid-afternoon/general state of being.

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