The Compass Rose: Poorly written romance-fantasy

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Gail Dayton The Compass RoseThe Compass Rose by Gail Dayton

I simply could not finish Gail Dayton’s The Compass Rose (and have already donated it to my public library). It begins adequately and has decent world-building, but about halfway in (once the strong-yet-unremarkable protagonist, Kallista, and company start toward the capital city) it sinks into a nauseating quagmire of romantic pseudo-plots and issues. The scenes are poorly paced, and for no apparent reason (other than weak attempts at creating tension), chapters begin and end in the middle of the same scene. Most glaringly, the writing is at best pedestrian and, at its worst, contains some of the most awful sentences I can recall.

An example from p. 220: “[His] hips bucked, his tip just nudging her entrance, and they both hissed with the feel of it.” (Note that neither character being described is a snake-person. Also, how could neither the author nor editor chuckle whenever an agent of the ‘bad’ sect, The Order of the Barbed Rose, refers to his boss as the ‘Master Barb’?)

If you enjoy romances and don’t mind fantastical elements, then The Compass Rose may be a decent library loan or airplane book. However, if you’re looking for a fantasy adventure, a good character-driven story, or something well-written, then I strongly recommend avoiding it.


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ROB RHODES was graduated from The University of the South and The Tulane University School of Law and currently works as a government attorney. He has published several short stories and is a co-author of the essay “Sword and Sorcery Fiction,” published in Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading. In 2008, Rob was named a Finalist in The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Rob retired from FanLit in September 2010 after more than 3 years at FanLit. He still reviews books and conducts interviews for us occasionally. You can read his latest news at Rob's blog.

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