Plague Seed: Did Not Finish

Plague Seed by Wade Alan SteelePlague Seed by Wade Alan Steele

I did not finish Plague Seed by Wade Alan Steele and so as is usual when that happens, this will be quite the short review, as I don’t like to belabor the point about why I found a book to be so bad that I put it down.

Plague Seed begins with a letter from the elven Seligre, “Savior of Oldenhome and the southern lands of Talandria,” to his newborn son, introducing his account of the Plague War. He’s written this account in response to the inaccurate, overblown “history” of the war by Rawlen Brokenhorn (a minotaur) so that his son will know what really happened, and that his father was not the “elven hero of epic strength and laudable intentions” portrayed in Brokenhorn’s multi-volume history. A short letter by Brokenhorn himself follows, in which he describes to the master librarian how he received Seligre’s story and why he thinks it should not grace the shelves of the library. The story proper, told in first-person from Seligre’s POV follows, opening up in a brothel where Seligre is mistaken for another elf named Dockra. Unfortunately, Dockra was apparently having an affair with Katelyn, the wife of the lord of the town, Raymuz. In short order (kind of), Seligre is captured by Raymuz, brought to Katelyn so she can kill him as punishment for both (she is pretending he is Dockra), and then she helps him to escape so she can flee with him.

That is as far as I got, a little more than 20% in according to my Kindle. Plague Seed rubbed me wrong from the very start. The letters felt clumsily voiced and awkward as an introduction. The narrative voice of Seligre in the story proper was even worse and to be honest, simply grated on me (beyond the point of intention I think, as Seligre is meant I assume to be painted as a self-important jerk early on). The writing alone had me ready to stop (by 5% in — thanks Kindle!) but I keep going in hopes things would improve. Suffice to say, they did not. There was a “I’m-way-drunk-but-suddenly-I-mysteriously-sober-up-immediately-so-I-can-fight-in-amazing-fashion scene that I’ve so grown to loathe in books. There was an I’ll-leave-my-stupid-henchman-alone-and-hope-he-doesn’t-do-something-stupid scene. And an escape scene that just went on way too long in the preliminaries — especially as we all knew where it was going (well, all but the henchmen).

In short, I found the voice annoying, the plot clichéd and predictable, and the writing adequate at best. I suppose it’s possible I caught the book at its worst, but as it was a real struggle just to get to the 20% point, I just couldn’t push further. Not recommended.

Publication Date: January 12, 2013. A hero is built, not born, forged in the fires of chaotic happenstance and tempered by fear. Drayvus Varden, handsome elven scoundrel, assassin, and professional mischief maker, falls victim to a perilous case of mistaken identity and is forced to take a job escorting Katelyn Shar, the unfaithful wife of the regional governor, to the place of Dravyus’ birth–the elven forest, Oldenhome. With her husband’s men giving chase, Drayvus, Katelyn, and the drunken dwarven priest Tahlkin bicker and snark their way south through the Wild Lands, as an army gathers in the north set to begin a war that will change the face of Talandria forever. When Drayvus discovers that Katelyn is to play a part in the oncoming conflict, he is forced to either become a hero or let all he has ever loved wither and die–destroyed by the Plague Seed.

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BILL CAPOSSERE lives in Rochester NY, where he is lately spending much of his time trying to finish a book-length collection of essays and a full-length play. His prior work has appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other journals and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of several Best American Essay anthologies. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, co-writing the Malazan Empire re-read at Tor.com, or working as an English adjunct, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course, the ultimate frisbee field, or trying to keep up with his wife's flute and his son's trumpet on the clarinet he just picked up this month.

View all posts by Bill Capossere

3 comments

  1. I’m not used to seeing DNFs from you! I will steer clear of this one!

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