Lost Covenant ~ Ari Marmell

Lost Covenant (Widdershins Adventure 3) ~ Ari Marmell

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It goes without saying that I was dying to read this book. After discovering Thief’s Covenant during my summer holiday on a nice beach (yes, ignoring the sea) and then whalin-I-I mean wailing through False Covenant in September, the following months which led to the release of the sequel in December 2013 was a torture beyond imagination. I went as far as going on a reading hiatus (although entering sixth form and having 6 A-Levels to do with the massive work load is a better explanation…). I was literally crying and begging my mum to at least give me some peace of mind and pre-order it (pathetic, I know…stop judging!). I know that my few months of torture probably were nothing compared to the year and a half which everyone who read the book when it was released in summer 2012 suffered, but the pain was still there. I was really excited on the release date and went into a rage fit when my mum refused to order it straight away after I said that was the book I wanted for Christmas (dear me…I’m not really selling myself well here, am I? Surely my sad life story of getting this book is also…well sad). Thankfully I managed to convince her to buy it a few days later but….AMAZON WAS OUT OF STOCK FOR IT THEN! *l’table flip* Well all that was possible had been done – it was ordered until it was available. I dreaded the wait. I came from school every day demanding to know where the book was only to find myself later crawling up the stairs to my bedroom, dragging my ~10kg+ school bag and sulking as I found it hasn’t arrived yet. The day it arrived…oh dear god…I swear I looked like Golum from LoTR while I hid in a dark corner, stroking the book and whispering creepily “My preciousssss” (according to the film version anyway…if you roll with the book, it’s ‘Birthday present’). So… why am I telling you this? Honest answer – no idea. Maybe it’s the 2 in the morning that’s getting to me, the boredom or simply to emphasise the anticipation with which I awaited this book since I believed the series was worth it. Was I right to become a crazed creature like that for this book? Or was it inevitable that this was my fate as soon as I started this series? Well…

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Or is it…

The story – 3.5/5 stars:

So I think Marmell took the hint that he needed a more solid plot because this book had it…somewhat. I have to say – I was torn between my opinion on this book’s plot. There were flaws and there were strong points. Where do I begin?

Marmell has decided to gamble in this book and take Widdershins out into the wild, wider world. We, as readers, finally get to see something outside of Davillon. Now…a change of scene can be taken in three ways – the good way, the bad way or the ‘meh’ neutral way. The good way would be, as you can guess, to embrace the change and enjoy it. You would enjoy the refreshing change of setting and expand your knowledge of Widdershins’ world. There of course is also the bad side to this change – the rapid shift leaving you in the dark. Everything is new and unfamiliar. You have some troubles adjusting to the settings especially with Widdershins going from one place to another at the beginning which leads to confusion. Davillon wasn’t exactly grandly built up in the first place and you had just the gist of it to waffle through the first 2 books; this one though, like I said, may leave you like a fish struggling for brea-well water- out of the ocean/river/aquarium/you get the idea. I’ll cover more of the world building issues later on so let’s get back to the story. Before that though, there is also the neutral advance to this – you just shrug and roll along with it (which is what I did). You do after all get jumps back to the occurrences in Davillon throughout the book (I am happy to report that Renard gets more cameo time!).

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Right. Story. Got it. The main plot…I think I’ll be lazy and make it clear with the official synopsis:

It’s been six months since Widdershins and her own “personal god” Olgun fled the city of Davillon. During their travels, Widdershins unwittingly discovers that a noble house is preparing to move against the last surviving bastion of the Delacroix family.

Determined to help the distant relatives of her deceased adopted father, Alexandre Delacroix, she travels to a small town at the edge of the nation. There, she works at unraveling a plot involving this rival house and a local criminal organization, all while under intense suspicion from the very people she’s trying to rescue.

Along the way she’ll have to deal with a traitor inside the Delacroix family, a mad alchemist, and an infatuated young nobleman who won’t take no for an answer.

Sounds interesting? Well to me it did..until I found that it was somewhat misleading in some places. Let’s make it clear – the plot with the whole conspiracy was a mess. You didn’t know where it began or ended. I got the impression that Marmell was somewhat unsure of how to approach it and threw at us random events, hoping it’ll all nicely click into place. It would have worked well…if logic was involved. I think I shall comment on every plot point the synopsis promises to show what I mean.

It’s been six months since Widdershins and her own “personal god” Olgun fled the city of Davillon. During their travels, Widdershins unwittingly discovers that a noble house is preparing to move against the last surviving bastion of the Delacroix family.

I think you can guess that the bold text is the key plot point here. ‘Unwittingly’ indeed, I’d say. Widdershins randomly stumbles upon an old acquaintance who happens to point out the little detail. The whole discovery seems pretty random but hey – a plot is a plot, right? Next – the noble house plotting part. Okay…how should I say this…it would be a spoiler of course but I think oh well. You just got the warning….got it? Ready? Right – the whole thing with another house plotting it was kind of weak. They really left the dirty work to others and didn’t do much. The main villains of this book at the end were not even associated with them anymore as they decided to roll by their own rules.

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Determined to help the distant relatives of her deceased adopted father, Alexandre Delacroix, she travels to a small town at the edge of the nation.

Must I emphasise ‘distant relatives’ or ‘deceased adopted father’? Why on earth did Widdershins wish to help out those guys? She hardly knew them and being a relative, let alone a distant one, of someone doesn’t mean that they are the same type of people (as she discovers later). And why is she surprised by how different they are? Yes, it is possible for most of them to be complete jerks despite Alexandre being her saviour. I guess she was just seeking a distraction, but it would be confusing for anyone who picks up Lost Covenant without reading the previous 2 books despite the author claiming that the books can be read separately.

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There, she works at unraveling a plot involving this rival house and a local criminal organization, all while under intense suspicion from the very people she’s trying to rescue.

This probably would sound exciting…that is if the investigations were actually interesting and useful. They weren’t bad but they weren’t brilliant either. Most of the time was spent by trying to avoid the other pests of Delacroix trying to throw her into prison or something.

Along the way she’ll have to deal with a traitor inside the Delacroix family, a mad alchemist, and an infatuated young nobleman who won’t take no for an answer.

The traitor did not seem that important at the beginning. Trying to solve the mystery of who the traitor was also lead to an unexpected suspect. It made sense, but not in a way a reader could have figured out on their own. Is that good or bad? Up to you but I do prefer when there are more logical patterns involved. The mad alchemist turned out to be pretty flat. It sounded exciting but their role was really at the end which was never fully achieved anyway. The alchemist part also kind of gave away that there was no magician as it was suspected at first. The part with the ‘infatuated young nobleman who won’t take no for an answer’ – I expected some haughty and cunning nobleman for some reason but what I got was a kitten whom Widdershins constantly had to help out to keep him out of trouble. I don’t know where the ‘no for an answer’ came from since he wasn’t exactly forcing his feelings onto Widdershins all the time. The ‘no for an answer’ also sounds like he would have a strong personality and quite some arrogance, I’d say it was kinda an opposite. I say kinda since Cyrille wasn’t too weak, he just…got in the way…a lot.

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Let’s talk about plot twists now..because as I was sad about finishing the book – I reached the last. 3. Flopping. Pages! Marmell is officially evil as far as I’m concerned since the twist right in the very last hopping paragraph shocked me a lot and left me nearly screaming at the book fore more. Oh the wait for the next book is annoying…

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The characters – 4/5 stars:

Widdershins: She’s back but this time she is more emotionally scarred than ever. Apparently losing Julien was the last branch for her to fully snap and leave Davillon. Never mind her other friends who care for her! What do they know anyway, right? Well… It is understandable though – she did lose a lot of important people in her life. The way I see it is that she believes she brings trouble and demise to those around her (she’s not far off…although why misfortune favours her is a mystery…must be a protagonist thing). She has matured quite a lot if we compare her to the first book. She takes the lead more seriously although of course her witty humour is still there. Apparently in this book Widdershins is also a mystery solver… unexpected but interesting. It is obvious that she is clever anyway since it would take at least some brains to outsmart many of those she has robbed, but I think solving a mystery is not something a thief would normally do. This is the point where I began to question who Widdershins was now anyway – she wasn’t a full thief since she ‘abandoned’ her ways in False Covenant but she just wanders around so…she’s a traveller? She seems to have been a bit broken and lost which explains why she clung onto her objective to help the Dalecroix family – she simply needed at least some sort of purpose in life as well as a distraction, as I mentioned before.

Olgun: I don’t really know what to comment on this…god anymore. The communication system is still the same but I think Widdershins relies on him maybe a bit too much.

Cyrille: Fresh blood, I see. This new character was inevitably rather annoying. As I have said before – he always got in the way. Despite Widdershins trying to gather at least some clues, he always ended up ruining it whether directly (by being clumsy/careless) or indirectly (his family trying to get him back since they thought Widdershins seduced him away and was a bad influence). In the end he turned out to be an easily disposable character as Widdershins obviously rejects him and leaves. Such pity much time wasted.

Renard: Finally some more cameo time! …although not much. Things seem to be stirring in Davillon – not exactly in a good way. It seems that Renard’s position and life is under threat and well…the epilogue pretty much suggests he’s dead meat. A dangerous cliff hanger, we were left with. Marmell is treading on a mine field as I sharpen my throwing knives and pack my suitcase just in case I have to visit a certain author in America to ‘persuade’ them into leaving Renald alive and well.

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Delacroix family: Annoying haughty aristocrats. Really, they annoyed me a lot. They got in the way as well which was pretty annoying but that was the intention so I can’t complain too much.

Antagonists: Wow..just…wow… Not exactly in a good way… Marmell is really not reluctant to sharpen his pen and stab a few characters to death, is he? I think the massacre was rather disturbing, for me anyway. I guess it gave the villains the final coating for the readers’ hatred for them as what they were doing was beyond crossing the lines of morality.

The others: A certain little witch returns from the first book and I think you can guess who I’m referring to if you read it. She seems to have made her own deal with the devil/god.

*SPOILER*

I was surprised to find that there was the hint that Iruoch was still alive…well in a way. That was the suggestion anyway. Even if he wasn’t, I guess it would be some force related to him because of the mention of the very familiar chorus of creepy laughing voices of children mentioned in the last sentence of the book.

*END OF SPOILER*

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Writer’s technique – 4/5 stars:

The stakes are getting higher, the themes are getting darker and Marmell seems to be able to glide through this with his writing. It is done well yet I still cannot give him the full 5 stars. It can’t be helped as something extremely special has to impress me. In his first book it was the puzzle, in Leavitt’s novel it was her magical style. This however is the usual normal style. It is skilful but nothing too complex or clever. I still like it though – it is one of my favourites and I really love the action scenes which are increasing throughout the series. Also, despite my complaints, the last plot twist of the book was well positioned to set out the stage for the grand finale of the fourth book.

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Oh dear. Seems I nearly forgot about the word building comment I promised earlier. Right. Davillon was never fully and truly explored in the other books. It is understandable since you don’t exactly need to know. It happens all the time with many books of this genre. The world outside however was explored even less. Half the time you were unsure of where the character was and where the action was happening except the simple locations of ‘street’ or ‘inn’ or ‘random building’ or ‘mansion’. That’s as far as it went. The final scenes with the long corridors and many rooms may have also left a few confused. It made sense but it was balancing very carefully on the border of ‘slight confusion’ and ‘complete confusion’.

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Overall – 5/5 stars:

I’m sure you’re once again wondering why I’m ‘over-rating’ this book. Simple – despite its many flaws I still loved it. The whole series is a favourite of mine. I still enjoyed the book and all the annoyances I mentioned were obviously necessary to the story. It still flowed nicely. The last 100 pages were especially good as they had me completely glued to the book with all the tension and the revelations. This book is still good and I think it deserves more love than it receives.

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To summarise:

Don’t feel discouraged by my somewhat harsh critique of the plot and some of the characters. You should really give it a try. The intrigue is more important in this book and tensions are building up. The end is not far for this series (unfortunately) but here’s the next book’s cover anyway:

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I’m not exactly liking Widdershins’ face expression there…what I mean by that is that it looks rather sad so I’m a bit worried of how everything will end. Either way, this wait is going to be yet another torture!

As a treat, I thought I’d share something I found not too long ago:

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And that summarises my life….

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

~Rita the Book Fox Image

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

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