The Unworthy and the Damned by Billy Wong
Genre – Epic Fantasy
About the Book – Women with Power
“Rousing fantasy adventure with a few tough heroines.
When a revolutionary claiming to be descended from fallen angels plunged the land into civil war, it fell to mighty Princess Eleanor to stop him. Years later after the princess is thought to have grown complacent, young but bold merchant’s daughter Celia is attacked by assassins while on routine business. She investigates even as hired killers hound her at every step, receiving help from sympathetic assassin Edge, healer-in-training Lina, and Eleanor herself. But when the motives behind her family being targeted go deeper into the kingdom’s secrets than expected, she may find herself in way over her head.
A full length novel.” – Publisher Blurb
The Review – An Epic Fantasy That Could Use Some Bite
Long title aside, The Unworthy and the Damned sets up a great many expectations. While it delivers on some, there is room for improvement. The story feels unconnected at times. With warrior princesses, assassins and intrigue, the whole experience feels a bit rushed and little happens to push the characters forward. This lack of improvement is a problem for us. We like to see characters change and evolve over time, but we don’t see that much here. Instead we see an unnatural change as characters are whatever they need to be in any given moment, only to change and become what they need to be later, without any real indication to what prompted the change other than the plot necessitated it. If we were asked to describe Celia or Eleanor’s personalities, we would be hard pressed to pin down concrete details and flaws.
These little quirks are what make us human, and the only consistency we see here does not endear us as much as we would like. The character’s arc is an important part of any epic fantasy, and this comes up a bit short.
As well, the whole thing feels a bit short. It is as if there is a rush toward the end to tie everything together, and in that rush pieces were missed. Haste is not the author’s friend and it can lend a panicked feeling to the book.
The Bright Side – The Princess Can Save Herself
We have been quite critical, but this work is not without merit. Mister Wong has created some strong female lead characters, something that is woefully missing from many epic fantasies. While they aren’t the deepest characters, they are fun, and given center stage in the work. This, along with some fun dialogue and a quick pace, make this story a fun romp through an intriguing world.
The world building too, while not perfect, adds to this story. How many princesses are this awesome? Not many, not many indeed. Mister Wong created a believable world for these characters to exist in, and we are glad for it.
The Rating – B-
We are always harsh, but that is because we offer a service not just to readers, but authors who seek to hone their skills. We hope we have done that here. While this book is not for everyone, anyone who likes awesome heroines will enjoy it. The Unworthy and the Damned is the first of a series. While it is off to a shaky start, we know it will get better. We look forward to seeing more from Mister Wong in the future.