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THE HEIRS OF EXCALIBUR

Do not read if you want an Arthurian story.

By TanaNari, author of Price

Oct 7, 2015: First, a disclaimer: I adore the Arthurian mythos. I love all the epic tragedies, with their flawed heroes and less-than-heroes that still manage to do good. I love antagonists and protagonists who could switch roles solely by switching writing perspective. I love Tristram and Isolde’s clash of ideals. These are the stories I live for.

This is not that kind of story. It doesn’t have that depth, that presentation of hard issues. Frankly, it’s almost insulting for the author to call this Arthurian. I feel like it was shoehorned into something that’s basically a lighter and fluffier version of Harry Potter.

Or, more accurately, a less creepy Peter Pan, with absurdly happy go lucky characters that aren’t remotely in touch with reality. But without the disturbing undertones. There’s also contrived ways to "censor" swear words done in this story, which adds to the childish tone.

All these are fine things for a story to be- but they are NOT an Arthur story.

I’m going to be objective in my review, but understand my numbers may be skewed by a personal bias against In-Name-Only fanfics like this one. Either by being more negative. Or by overcompensating for my negativity by giving it more credit than another might.

Overall Rating: I give the story a 2, but include a +/- .5 margin for error for the above reason.

Now to justify the numbers:

Writing style: Not bad. Needs refinement, better description words, and I’m catching a lot of typos. Even one chapter where all the formatting appears to have been lost and not fixed.

I’m giving a 2/5- not yet painful (except that one chapter), but it needs a lot of work. Strangely, it actually seems to be getting worse as the story progresses. When I started reading it, I had decided on a "3", but the quality declined somewhere around the third arc.

Pacing: Readable, if a bit sloppy. Roughly 500 word entries that present and solve the problem at hand, or solve the one presented in the last chapter. No real drama, past "first world problems" with the parents, no conflict of note at all. Creates a very Saturday-Morning-Cartoon feel, complete with a Monster-of-the-Week.

Based on the rest of the tone, I’m assuming this is intentional. Ergo, I give a 2.5/5. It’s not great, but it’s doing what it’s meant to do. Were the story to have a darker or more dramatic focus, this number would go down.

Much like the writing, the pacing seems to be getting worse as time goes on and the story tries to get more dramatic. I had it pegged as a 3 until the ‘Green Giant’ arc. I’m almost ready to call it a 2.

Characters: The main character is naive about the weirdest things. His inner dialogue plays him as snarky and world-weary despite his youth (which is fine) . . . but he’s a highschool student, and is confused by why gorillas are fighting over a mate.

The mother, looks like she’s being set up to be the "badass action Mom" trope, but rather halfheartedly. It almost feels like the author didn’t devote any time to building her character before starting the story.

The father, seems fairly lackluster, cowing to his wife’s will. Which is fine and all, but it’s not displayed in an interesting way.

There’s a transgendered (MtF) character presented, that the main character has a crush on and can’t comprehend why others have a problem with this (remember what I said about unrealistic naiveté). I’m okay with him not having a problem with it . . . but him being confused that others do is just absurd. He was raised in the USA, not Magical Faerie Land.

Personally, I find it trashy and insulting. Not so much that it’s there, but how it’s presented and handled. Much like the "Arthurian" label, it feels like it’s been shoehorned in where it doesn’t belong. Especially given the rest of the tone of this story, the including of sexuality- ANY sexuality- is incredibly jarring. And I get the feeling the author has never actually met a transgendered individual in his life.

I’m assuming this is a matter of trying to do good and failing, rather than a matter of callously seeking praise from the non-cisgendered communities.

2/5- which can be dropped to a 0 if I’m wrong in my assumption. I don’t like "exploitation films", or written variants of them. But I don’t believe that’s what is happening here, and am invoking Hanlon’s Razor.

Worldbuilding: Like everything else, it’s lackluster. There’s hints of an interesting magical world, that is more like a living daydream . . . standard, even generic, Modern Supernatural fare. I’ll forgive the lack of establishment, because this genre loves to slowly reveal the supernatural.

The problem is, the ‘real world’ side is equally unestablished. We go through entire chapters without learning anyone’s names except the main characters. While in school, no less.

2/5

Tone: This is normally a "Your Mileage May Vary" to me. My Little Pony and Supernatural have vastly different tones, and it’s a matter of taste as to which is better. Too opinion based, no intelligent reviewer treads here.

But . . . Heirs of Excalibur seems to be trying to be both. And again I’ll use the word ‘lackluster’ to describe the story.

On one hand . . . easy, bite sized problems that get solved less than a thousand words later like an episodic cartoon.

And the other hand has issues of racism, sexuality and ancient family feuds that are hinted at . . . and then ignored . . . or treated like they can be solved in episodic format.

It’s like the author can’t decide if he wants to write for children or for adults, and he can’t seem to find the balance.

I won’t assign a number here, because I refuse to let "personal taste" define my critiques.

So my overall numbers are a 8.5/20, but I’m deducting the half point for the aforementioned tone clashes and poor handling of complex issues, solely for how badly it hurts the overall narrative. And I cannot recommend it, even to people who might like the tonal clash.

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