Fantasia Reviews Fatemarked by David Estes
Genre – Epic Fantasy
“They are the fatemarked. Misunderstood. Worshipped. Hated. Murdered at birth. Their time to step into the light has come.
An ancient prophecy foretold their coming, the chosen few who will bring peace to a land embroiled in a century of mistrust and war. When kings start dying, that hope and belief swiftly turns to fear. Roan Loren is one of the fatemarked, but has hidden his mark of power his entire life, fearing the damage it might cause to those around him.
A great evil is coming. He can’t hide anymore.
In the spirit of fantasy epics like Throne of Glass and The Lord of the Rings, enter a world of magic and dragons, kings and queens, and victory and defeat, during a time when honor and valor still meant something…” – Publisher’s Blurb
Fatemarked – Parts Miss the Mark
This is our first review in a few months, so we’ve decided to change up our styling ever so slightly. We stand firm in our belief that no book is perfect, no work beyond reproach, and as such, we are adjusting our template to make sure we highlight the high points and shortcomings of every book we review. Because this new style may surprise some readers, we’ve decided to mark our comeback with a book that has been fairly well received, Fatemarked.
Without a doubt, Fatemarked deserves many of its praises, but even at a glance, it’s impossible to miss its glaring weaknesses: it lacks originality, some characters border on insipid, and it does a whole lot of telling with very little showing.
Let’s hit these points one by one. First, lacking originality. Looking at the map, we see an uncanny resemblance to a certain seven kingdoms. Fortunately, Mister Estes avoids a carbon copy of any one work, instead choosing to include pieces of many stories we have beloved throughout the years. While we don’t fault him too heavily for this, it would have been nice to see more of his thought-processes emerge and create something unique.
Second, we hate Roan. We do. Even the name, Roan Loren, is as banal as they come. It borders of forgettable while telling us little, if nothing, about the character himself. From there, we could hope for some building of the character. Even after reading the entire book, we couldn’t tell you much about Roan or how much he improved as a person. We can’t even tell you the color of his hair. Also, he was given the ability to miraculously heal injuries, which, while constrained enough by the contrivances of the story, still feels like a bit of a cop-out to help tie everything together.
Finally, there is a weakness to the writing that borders on bothersome. Infodumps are commonplace, removing any kind of ‘flow’ the story may have had. The thesaurus, an excellent tool, was abused throughout the novel, tossing about five-dollar words as if they were free. Overall, this creates an inconsistent tone throughout the story and detracts from the narrative.
We Don’t Believe in Fate
So, we were torn. There were some legitimately tough parts to read. That said, there were some genuinely bold choices made by Mister Estes that transcend the genre and not only make for great reading but also make a statement about the world we live in today. While we won’t spoil any details, Roan has a single trait, as banal as he may be otherwise, that sets him apart from other characters. In this way, he has a little life breathed into him, even if it is only for a while.
There are other characters who border on interesting, of course, but none of them entirely break away and steal the show. That said, they are each fun enough that they keep the story moving. The same can easily be said for the entire book. If you like the substance, you will find it more than readable, maybe even relatable, but if you aren’t as enthralled, you will find the writing difficult and the pacing sluggish.
Fatemarked – Recommended
We’re trying something new here too, dropping the ratings of the book in favor of a straight yea or nay. We think the reason for this is pretty clear, but we may as well explain. In the past, we rated books on a star/point system, and our heavy criticisms made our ratings seem strange. We always want to be critical, that is how we expect writers to learn and grow, but we felt the numerical ratings undercut our purpose.
On that note, we can do nothing but recommend Fatemarked. It’s written well enough, with characters that are believable if a little boring. The writing is average, with Mister Estes’s vision leading the way and marking what is sure to be an excellent opening for a great series.
We look forward to reading the rest of the series in the weeks to come and hope that you do the same.
Do you want to read Fatemarked, and the rest of the series? You can do so here.