Firstly an apology to Sean for the frankly ridiculous amount of time it has taken me to review this book and a thank you for sending me the book in the first place. So at long last here is my review, an excerpt and general feelings about the Least Envied.
The Least Envied is the second in the songs unsung series. First impressions of the cover are how great it is, like a lost treasure found at the back of a cupboard or in an old box in the attic. It looks mysterious and therefore automatically readable.
Cast back in time to a perilous wasteland, Andrew is tasked with recording the fate of an individual history has chosen to ignore. Threatened by knee-high creatures called Wogs, an enigmatic beast known as the Forest Monster, and the man orchestrating the slow annihilation of the world, Andrew discovers all hope for salvation and survival rests with a boy without a history.
Everyone has a story.
Hobert scowled. “What do you want, Mister Don’t-Know-A-Hero-Even-Tho-He’s-So-Damd-Smart?”
“Where’s your hero now?” called Andrew. He pointed toward the Forest Monster as it made its uncontested escape. Hobert pointed to the statue. “Right there, you malodorous cad. Is he too big to see, you reckon? Ha! You been skunked by my sardonic wit. Just one in a wide array of debilitating rhetorical weapons!”.
So what did I think?
From the first page, you are thrown into a new and exciting world, which quickly becomes the norm. Full of strange creatures (Wogs sound terrifying and sort of cute at the same time- think bony gremlins), fascinating technology and well-written characters.
One of the things I really liked about this book was it made me think, there are many philosophical threads throughout the story, but one of the most interesting is about heroes. What makes someone a hero? Is it a one-off act of strength and bravery? Or a series of smaller actions? Once a hero is that you then stuck for life? Or can even initially dubious characters become the heroic archetype? Yet this is done subtly and cleverly throughout, no heavy-handed take-home messages here.
Something I enjoy in my fantasy fiction is humour, humour at daily events/ideas and humour between characters, knowing nods to us as readers that yes the world is a big and scary place, but it is incredibly strange and often hilarious. This is something that Sean writes well and makes the characters come to life.
The plot is quite complex and there were times I had to stop to remember quite what was happening. The only thing I would improve is the length, it’s slightly too long and would benefit from a couple of chapters being cut.
However, overall I thought this was a very good read, interesting, funny and thought-provoking. Definitely recommended for fans of fantasy, westerns and Sci-fi.
What do you think? Is this something you’d like to read? Have you read any of Sean’s other books?
Let me know.