Lady of the Lakes by J.C. Hall has so much potential. The story iss imaginative, with truly original aspects to it and interesting characters. Unfortunately, though the writing is decent, it always feels overwritten, as though the author didnít have enough faith in his or her own words, but more on the writing style in a bitÖ First, the promising plot and characters:
The book begins as a young man, Corryn, waits near a lake. For a year heís been waiting, and finally, the Sentry of the Lake comes back. Though the warrior is an amazing fighter, it doesnít stop a dark priest from taking the baby the warrior has been carrying. As Corryn is tending to the warriorís wounds, he is shocked to discover that the swordsman is a beautiful woman.
From this point forward, Corryn devotes himself to the lady and follows her even as she follows her silver sword. Corryn begs to be her liegeman, but Lady Jessarna puts him off, telling him he can accompany her until her debt to him is repaid. Though she is cold and distant, fearing the danger she puts him in, you most often get the feeling that she views Corryn as a loyal dog, though there are moments when you see that she does care more for him than she lets on. It is only her destiny, to serve as a protector for many worlds, that keeps her distant. On their journey, they come up against scheming princes, corrupt generals, creatures of the fey and many more.
The two main characters, Lady Jess and her devotee, Corryn, are both well fleshed out and interesting to read. The Lady herself comes off with mystical, goddess-type qualities, but through Corrynís eyes the reader can see her human fallibility. For a good portion of the book, Corryn is portrayed as a young man with a schoolboy crush with no will of his own. Each time I think Iím sick of his character, he shows that he does actually have a spine and he is his own person.
The story, though not outstanding, does have promise. However, it often gets lost in the overwritten prose. In a few places, this type of writing evokes powerful images of mystical, otherworldly places and feelings. But for most of the book, the writing just serves to get in the way of the story. My biggest issues came with the royal characters, especially Jess, constantly referring to themselves in the third person - One knows that oneself travels a dangerous road. Another trick that is overused, and one Iíve never encountered before (at least not so much that it made such a negative, lasting impression) is the overuse of one adjective describing the exact same adjective: Her face on his shoulder felt soft as soft.
The final impression of the novel is very mixed. In places, the writing and characters shine through with brilliant, beautiful clarity. But in other places, in more places, the book just folds over on itself and becomes its own undoing. Author J.C. Hall definitely has the potential to write an amazing sci-fi, fantasy book. The Lady of the Lakes just misses the mark.