I’m not a fan of belaboring why a book is bad, so this will be a pretty brief review. Suffice to say that I did not finish Kevin Anderson’s The Edge of the World, the first book of his Terra Incognita series. Not finishing is rare for me, even if a book is mediocre, so that gives you some sense of what I thought of The Edge of the World. I made it 300+ pages in, roughly halfway, so I think I gave it more than a fair chance to overcome the flaws that were troubling me from the start, but as they began to pile up — along with the many other to-read books on my shelf, I just couldn’t justify continuing.
The concept itself was intriguing — two nations (Tierra and Uraba) founded ages ago, both thinking each is the descendant of the Creator’s sons whom he had sent out to explore his newly-made world. Tierrans believe they are descended from Ondun’s son Adien and his crew, the Urabans from Ondun’s other son Urec. Two opposed religions have formed around these beliefs and acts/artifacts that are believed to have occurred during the two sons’ explorations. The religions meet on the island holy city of Ishalem — where both sides believe “their” Arkship stands. As war creeps closer, two kings try for peace by planning to sign a great treaty dividing the world in half. But when a conflagration strikes the holy city, with each side faulting the other, war seems inevitable.
The idea of an unexplored world, missions to find what is out there, war as a constant background — all of this made me excited to start the book. But things quickly paled. The characters are overly simplistic, the chapters short and quick-cutting, and the prose relatively simple and straightforward, lending the novel a shallow feel and robbing it of any sense of richness or depth. There was far too much telling rather than showing, and some clumsy exposition, as when one character asks another to detail the religion he’s lived under his whole life just to “strike up a conversation,” though of course we all know it was really so the reader could get some knowledge. And there were just too many acts and scenes that were either implausible or involved characters thinking or behaving stupidly, so that several plot points could not have existed had people acted with even a modicum of common sense.
As I said, I don’t like to pile on a book I didn’t care for, so I’ll simply say there were multiple examples of said problems, along with a few other issues. I struggled through the early examples in hopes that The Edge of the World would settle in, that the plot or characters might sweep away the underlying issues, but that didn’t happen. Not recommended.