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Review of The Gray by Howard Ravenkamp

Review of The Gray by Howard RavenkampThe Gray by Howard Ravenkamp
on 2014-05-20
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Pages: 510

Author Website

He wants a peaceful world.The world wants him dead.For the past 3,000 years, the will of everyone born has been bound to either the day god Aelios or the night god Norron. Those born in the half-light of dusk and dawn are cursed to serve Aelios by day and Norron by night.These are the Gray, each powerful enough to destroy cities but cursed go insane. The lucky ones are killed at birth. The rest are hunted.Zanfidion is a Gray and the only person the gods cannot control.Zanfidion shuns violence, but the warring gods want to kill him. Their high-priests-the Eluuns-have joined forces and are relentlessly hunting him. Anyone who recognizes him will turn him. Conflicts become unavoidable, but as Zanfidion learns more about the gods, his conviction against violence grows stronger.A confrontation is coming.What he does next will forever change the world.

I don’t remember ever being this frustrated with a book. This, for me, had loads of potential. The idea behind it was quite interesting. The world was interesting. The scenery was interesting. The horse, Smoke, was interesting. But the characters were entirely too flat for me.

In the beginning of the book, I was hit with a few typos and the occasional switch from past to present tense. Combined with the flat character, I almost put it down, but I was interested to learn more of the world, so I stuck with it. I reluctantly admit I skimmed towards the middle of the book and up to the end, so I can’t say with certainty if the typos and issues with tenses lessoned. The sheer number of similes really bogged it down as well. Sure, a couple are needed, but these seemed rather long and slowed down my reading.

Another hang up I had was the amount of detail Ravenkamp went into when describing spells. This is purely personal taste. I like to understand magic and spells, but this took it to another level. Some might find it intriguing but, for me, I ended up skipping pages.

Our main protagonist, Zanfidion, is uprooted from his home of 24 years and forced to flee. That’s how it starts. Yet, we don’t learn anything from Zanfidion except his dislike of violence. We don’t get a good feel for his emotions at having his life uprooted, and throughout, I never felt it was addressed. It’s what made him flat to me. With all that happened, he just seemed to float through everything. Toward the end, we started to see some expected emotion, but it was too late for me to be invested.

On another sad note, our main protagonist has a connection with animals, yet it’s not really explored in detail. He gets an incredibly interesting horse, but we’re told they have a bond, then that’s where the fun ends. I would have liked a bit more development. As I’ve said before, I love it when a book involves animals, but this felt like an afterthought.

Now, what was incredibly fun to read about was the Gray. Basically, each child born is claimed by one of two gods (one rules the day, one rules the night) and forced into their respective god’s service. However, those born in the “gray,” are torn between the two gods, each god vying for the person. It makes the person go mad at an early age. It also turns them into a crazy rampaging murderer. He/she can level towns without being aware of what their doing. They just want to kill. Their power is nearly unstoppable. I thoroughly enjoyed this idea, and while the execution lacked, the story itself kept pulling me along. If only Zanfidion had been more developed and a few questions I had answered, it would have been incredible.

So in conclusion, I really wish I liked this more. The story idea was amazing, the characters underdeveloped, and the world intriguing.

About Howard Ravenkamp

Howard is a storyteller, oddball, and recovering under-achiever who is still waiting for his latent mutant super-powers to manifest.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from Texas State University. In his spare time, he enjoys jumping out of planes, hang gliding, motorcycling, kayaking, and generally grinning with the Grim Reaper.

He lives in Austin, Texas where he diligently tries to do his part to “Keep Austin Weird”.

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