My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s always hard to know where to begin with a book that was as contradictory an experience as The Paladin Prophecy. The author, Mark Frost, has an excellent pedigree. He co-created Twin Peaks, wrote one of the funnier superhero films ‘The Fantastic Four’ and the not as bad as you think it might be sequel ‘The Fantastic Four : Rise of the Silver Surfer’. He knows his craft.
However I’m not sure that this is his book, not yet.
The Paladin Prophecy is the first in a series and is the story of Will West. Will has lived his life by his father’s rules. Stay off the radar. Play it safe. Don’t get noticed. But when Will slips up. He does a test – and he aces it. Aces it to the extent that he’s on the radar both of a shadowy group of men driving black sedan cars and also an exclusive school. His life’s never going to be the same again.
It’s a big book, and one that doesn’t really get going for a while. When it does actually get going, it’s great. I loved the school, at points reminding me of Hogwarts, the X Mansion, and that one from the Secret History by Donna Tartt (thank you to everyone on Twitter for reminding me of this title!). I loved the characters in the school – and really loved the library scenes.
But I didn’t really love Will, and I think that’s maybe a problem. He was too good to be true for me; too brave, too smart, and too Mary-Sue(ish). I can give Frost a little bit of leeway for this because this is the first book in a series (it has to be with *that* ending) and maybe Will develops more in the second books. It’s just that right now Will really didn’t really do anything for me.
I’m more than aware this might be a personal thing, and I’m aware that there’s people who’ll love this. Where I do think this book shines is in the sidekicks (Dave!) and the world-building. It’s great there. I love the concept and there are parts of it which I swallowed whole. Where I think it struggles a little bit is right at the core, with Will and his personal journey. I don’t know if I ever felt like I really knew him – and whilst that might be a perfectly character trait, it all felt a little too studied and self aware for me.
I hope this changes in the next book and I think that Frost is more than capable of delivering it. I’ll be keen to see how this series evolves because all of the building blocks are there. They’re just a little loose at present.