The Phoenix Endangered: Silly and boring

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMercedes Lackey James Mallory The Enduring Flame 2: The Phoenix EndangeredThe Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey

I got through about three quarters of The Phoenix Endangered on audio. This was a sluggish and clunky second installment in The Enduring Flame trilogy. The writing was dull and not much happened to advance the plot. By the time a battle finally started, I couldn’t muster up enough interest to participate.

Even more than the last book, this one was full of two teenage boys brooding, bickering, whining, and being noble. Half of what they say is said “sulkily,” “rudely,” “darkly,” or “huffily.” I got tired of hearing how they didn’t want to be heroes and didn’t want to kill anybody (even when a huge evil army which had destroyed a few cities and killed thousands of people had them under siege).

And the plot (what little there was) was just plain silly. For example, it is considered extremely rude to ask an elf any question (we are told this so many times!), but it really makes no sense that the boys have to figure out other ways to find out important information for their quest. According to elven protocol, if you needed to find out if an elf is seriously injured after a battle, you’d have to say something like: “It would make good hearing to know whether that sword has stabbed you in the guts and you are dying.”

Also, the entire evil mage and his army was ridiculous. The explanation for how the mage had become evil (addressed in my review for The Phoenix Unchained) was unbelievable (especially after his dragon rejects him) and his military tactics were idiotic. He claims that all the nations are going to band together and come fight them, yet he sends his warriors out to search the vast dessert for one of the tribes who don’t seem to want to join his army. That’s smart. Worse were the people who he had managed to band together to form an army — it would have been hard to find that many illogical and gullible people. In fact, they were so stupid that they weren’t at all scary.

When the evil army was at the door and I was starting to wonder if there might be some stock quotes on National Public Radio or some commercials on my favorite alt rock station, I decided it must be time to quit The Phoenix Endangered. In fact, even the audiobook reader himself sounded bored.

By the way, I still don’t know what the phoenix is.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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