Home > Books > Exile by Betsy Dornbusch

Exile by Betsy Dornbusch

Exile Betsy Dornbusch

Exile by Betsy Dornbusch (Night Shade Books, 2013) is the first in what has been billed as The Seven Eyes series but, with the publisher disappearing into a black hole, it’s not at all certain whether you will be able to acquire this book or whether a new publisher will release any more in the series. Although, truth be told, I’m massively indifferent as to whether any more work is published by this author which prompts me to one of my minor musings. Have you noticed how the noble bagel has been taken from its iconic role of bread, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and applied to the equally pleasing game of tennis. But the meaning has been turned pejorative to signal an unequal contest in which the winner of the set triumphed 6-0. Ah, such are the vagaries of language. . . but this should also indicate a deeper truth.

Not everyone is a top class performer and, when players come together for a game, superior skills almost always dictate the winner. The same is true in almost every human activity. Some people are better than others and we should not be ashamed to admit it. So let’s assume we can rank everyone from top class, through second, third, and so on down to total failure. If in international terms, I’m ranked as third class, I take that as an honour. When you look at the world’s total population, the idea there are only several million people better than me is high praise. All of which brings me to the immediate book for review. In international terms, this is an indifferent fifth-class sword and sorcery fantasy. Put in more precise terms, the writing is, at best, stodgy and the plot is hopelessly contrived and formulaic. That said, I’ve read an uncountable number of novels that are worse or, indeed, failed to finish novels that were total failures. So, in real terms, this is not quite as bad as it could have been.

Betsy Dornbusch

Betsy Dornbusch

So what’s it about? Well, there’s this cousin from the wrong side of the bed to the King of Monoea. He’s framed for the murder of his wife and, as the title suggests, exiled to Akrasia. So here comes a guy with superior skills as a bowman, having been a leader of men in the King’s Black Guard. He’s dumped in this foreign land in a miserable physical condition, having not exactly been given VIP treatment on the voyage to strand him. From this moment on, he’s on an inexorable rise to the top of the heap. Every time he has a chance to do the right thing, he does it. If he needs rescuing, this is carried by some conveniently-to-hand people. Whereas my own life experience has been one of slippery slopes tending in a downward direction, this Draken can’t help but end up beside Queen Elena. Naturally he fights against the disloyalty to the memory of his wife but this is the kind of woman no hero in a novel like this can resist.

What makes all this faintly risible is the way in which problems are solved. So, for example, he’s pretty useless with a sword and this is a sword and sorcery book, so he meets a magician who can bond him with the soul of a great swordsman. This gives him a guide to local conditions, great fighting skills, and someone to talk with whenever the conversation around him peters out. And, guess what, the sword he has turns out to have magic powers. That’s a useful plus. So the author presents us with a hero who, metaphorically speaking, can walk on water as we watch his miraculous progress round this island of exile until he works out who’s trying to depose the Queen and why. Then there’s some fighting and the Kingdom is saved.

Next book please.

Sorry that’s ambiguous. I’m not interested in reading the next book in this series. I’m hoping the next book in the pile to be read is better. Exile by Betsy Dornbusch is not recommended.

A copy of this book was sent to me for review.

  1. April 25, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Too bad–I can actually see some fun in the idea of an average Joe being bonded with the soul of a Musashi-type. Especially if the Joe was something of a coward. Of course that would tend to lean towards a more humorous kind of story.

    • April 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

      It would be fun to infuse a coward with the mind of a warrior, producing deeply troubling results for both. The coward would be tempted to give up and let the warrior control the body all the time. The warrior would find him or herself in situations of having to fight using a body that had never held a weapon before, let alone trained to use it. Chaos ensues. Unfortunately this book starts off with a superhero in waiting and, when he needs to be able to upgrade his sword-fighting skills, he downloads the software into his head that allows him to become an instant expert. No, wait, that’s the science fiction version. A mage summons the soul of a dead warrior and does a neat deal — a bit of additional life in this warrior’s body in return for passing on sword-fighting fighting skills when needed. A Dynamic Duo in one, as it were.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: