The Crystal Crown: The components are good, but…

The Crystal Crown (Averidan) Mass Market Paperback – April 3, 1984 by B. W. Clough Brenda Clough Averidan 1. The Crystal CrownThe Crystal Crown by Brenda Clough

The Crystal Crown is basically a simple story. Liras-Ven, an unassuming and softspoken gardener, is chosen to be his nation’s next king, much to his horror. He makes a few bumbling attempts to extricate himself from the situation before settling down to endure a comical succession of royal duties and a military campaign that will test his resolve as leader as well as his ties to those he holds… he h….*snore*

Huh? What? Oh… right, yes. Anyway, The Crystal Crown measures in at about 230 pages in a pocket-size paperback, so it’s hardly a doorstopper, yet I must say I found it incredibly difficult to work my way through it. Having said that, most of the components that make up this novel are actually quite good. Clough’s prose is very deft, her sense of humor is charming, and the characters are overall fairly distinct. Her fantasy universe isn’t exactly deep, but what there is of it is well-constructed. I very much liked some of the scenes, and once in a while I would find myself thinking that Clough’s turn of phrase was really very clever here or there. Let me reiterate one more time: B.W. Clough is a good author, and from a purely technical standpoint there’s little wrong with how the novel plays out. On the other hand, it is rather boring.

The Crystal Crown Kindle Edition by Brenda W. Clough Most of the problem, I think, stems from a conspicuous lack of urgency to the text. Particularly in the opening chapters, the novel doesn’t display any clear sense of direction, and foreshadowing is practically nonexistent. Instead, Liras-Ven just talks. A lot. He makes observations about his country, about his family, about the vaguely troublesome situation in which he finds himself, and so on. If he were an interesting character he might be able to carry it off, but while decently drawn, he’s exactly the sort of everyman hero we’ve all seen a thousand times before. We know just what he’ll do before he does it, and indeed even Liras-Ven seems to know, so that he doesn’t bother getting excited about it when it happens.

The supporting cast is, as I said above, distinct. However, that doesn’t make them particularly interesting or original either. The “magus” or court magician is The Wizard. That’s about all there is to his character: he simply embodies the trope and calls it a day. His apprentice is Liras-Ven’s sidekick. The end. Then there are the snippy, rival matriarchs; the celibate sisterhood of Amazon-style warriors; the gruff barbarian chieftain; the wise and exotic foreign merchant, et cetera, et cetera. It’s impossible to become invested in the narrative because not only are the characters such obvious and blatant archetypes, but their interactions are rather perfunctory and muted, as though Clough recognizes she only needs to touch vaguely on the emotions that are at play to give us the gist of what will happen when Trope A collides with Trope B.

Overall, I can’t call it a bad novel, but The Crystal Crown just isn’t anything special. The emotional content is perfunctory, the characters are bland and recognizable, and it’s very difficult to care about what might happen next.

Averidan — (1984-1988) Publisher: A Crown With a Mind of its Own… When Liras-ven Tsormelezok set off into his garden that morning, he knew he could claim some sort of royal ancestry-but then, so could most of the rest of the population of Averidan. Therefore, being named King while pruning his klimflower vines was a trifle unexpected. But that was only the first of the surprises waiting for Liras. For example, he discovered that the Crystal Crown of the Kings of Averidan could not only speak to him-it could kill him, if it decided he shouldn’t be king. And then were certain other inheritances from the late king: a war about which he knew nothing, and a royal bride-to-be with whom he could not speak. No wonder Liras decided to make a run for it…

Brenda Clough Averidan 1. The Crystal Crown 2. The Dragon of Mishbil 3. The Realm Beneath 4. The Name of the SunBrenda Clough Averidan 1. The Crystal Crown 2. The Dragon of Mishbil 3. The Realm Beneath 4. The Name of the SunBrenda Clough Averidan 1. The Crystal Crown 2. The Dragon of Mishbil 3. The Realm Beneath 4. The Name of the SunBrenda Clough Averidan 1. The Crystal Crown 2. The Dragon of Mishbil 3. The Realm Beneath 4. The Name of the Sun


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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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