The Three Sisters: Badly written and edited

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Rebecca Locksley The Three SistersThe Three Sisters by Rebecca Locksley

I’d been meaning to read The Three Sisters for a long time. The cover art intrigued me. I remember seeing it in the bookstore, thinking “But there are only two sisters in the picture!” and then finally noticing the third, ghostly woman in the pool. I wanted to know what these sisters’ story was. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

The sisters, Elena, Yanimena, and Marigoth, are members of a race called the Tari. The Tari are magically gifted, drop-dead gorgeous, and feared for their power and beauty. Their religion is based around the “life spirit.” Tari are more in tune with the life spirit than people of other races. They’re so in tune with the life spirit that if a Tari kills someone, he or she suffers death throes in sympathy with the victim.

Their enemies are the Mirayans. The Mirayans follow a religion analogous to Christianity. They’re also warlike, imperialistic, and sexist. Oh, and they love to cut down trees. Readers, I am no Christian, but I still felt like I was being hit over the head with a Message.

However, I was quickly distracted from Rebecca Locksley’s message by the hideous copy editing. Missing punctuation marks are rampant, and there’s some bad spelling too. A few examples:

  • Stop being such a fool he told himself, she’s only a woman.
  • “Mari,” she said, catching hold of Marigoth’s wrist in the darkness “Can we get the ship’s crew out of here?”
  • There were stands of trees here and there, but only the valleys were truly forrested and the main road didn’t enter those.
  • “No,” said Yani “But her people have great respect for mine.”

Then there are passages I can’t blame on the copy editor. These are just plain awkward writing:

The Mirayans’ first glimpse of Elena:

For she was fair, fair as gold with skin like ivory and huge dark green eyes. Her face! Each feature so delicate and fine! Her neck was slender, her body shapely. Skin as soft, soft as a whisper, as the touch of lip upon lip. Perfect! Surpassingly perfect! Astonishing! She was the most beautiful woman they had ever seen.

By the next page, Madraga, a Mirayan officer, is capitalizing Elena’s pronouns in his head as if she’s a goddess, and thinking this convoluted sentence:

He was certain that was what the flare of Her nostrils and the quick backward glance She had given him as Scarvan had pulled Her away had betokened.

Oh, and when one Mirayan tries to explain matriarchy to his commanding officer:

Like most of these native tribes she’s called Queen.

It sounds like the lady in question is a tribe, which I doubt was Locksley’s intention.

What finally killed The Three Sisters for me was a particularly egregious head-hop on page 77. A little background: Yanimena is currently masquerading as a man named Yani. Her traveling companion, Ezratah, has no idea Yani’s a woman, and this scene is in Ezratah’s POV. Bolding is mine:

”I thank you,” said Yani, shaking the man’s outstretched hand. Duprey held the Tari’s hand for a moment longer than necessary, looking at her face almost as if he recognized her.

Was this Yani some kind of religious leader? When the girl came back with the food, she brought two other women, her middle-aged mother and a thirteen-year-old girl. They asked her to bless them, which she did, saying,

“May the Circle of Life enfold and bless you.”

She even blessed the woman’s unborn child, putting her hand on her swelling belly to do so. Though Ezratah thought he had become used to the easy intimacy between native men and women, he could not help being shocked to see how readily the woman let a strange man touch her belly. She seemed to trust the Tari as completely as a child trusts its father. He must be some kind of religious leader. Sinister!

Leaving aside the silly melodrama of that “Sinister!” proclamation, why on earth are we randomly jumping into an omniscient POV in which Yani’s true gender is known, and then suddenly back into Ezratah’s head, where he thinks Yani is male?

That’s when I knew I’d never be able to concentrate on The Three Sisters long enough to enjoy it. I can’t read for pleasure when I find myself wishing for a red pen.

The Three Sisters — (2004) Publisher: As One, They Are Destiny…Once Tari ruled in the land of Yarmar — a mysterious race of visionaries and healers whose power has since faded to legend. Then the armies of Mir came to destroy and enslave. Now, in their relentless drive for domination, the despised Mirayan Prince Scarvan and his loyal duke, Wolf Madraga, have both claimed a prize beyond compare. She is called Elena Starchild, the bewitching wife of a newly slain woodlands leader. She is Tari, possessing a “fatal beauty” that confounds and obsesses her lustful captors. And she will not be abandoned. Drawn from their island sanctuary by a sister’s plight, a warrior and a sorceress return to an oppressed land, carrying with them the magic of hope, spirit, and glorious rebellion. But there are shadows in their own hearts that first must be conquered before a prisoner is freed … and a mighty destiny can come to pass.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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