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Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Thursday, December 20, 2012

3 Stars: A Good Read
Series: The Dragon King Chronicles #1
Hardcover: 312 Pages
Publication: January 2, 2013 by Harper Teen

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The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Being the fantasy lover that I am, I tend to be harsh on fantasy books. Prophecy doesn't have the extensive world building that I like to see in fantasy books. It's set in the Seven Kingdoms era, and it's clear that the time period has been researched and developed. However, I had a hard time picturing the world in my head. This book has an MG feel to it and often does a lot of telling. The writing is simple and not overly ornate, and it does do a good job of conveying the elegance and some of the formalities of the era without getting bogged in details. Given the simplicity of the language and the reading level, this is a good fantasy book for middle-grade readers and younger teens whereas readers in the upper teen range may find it lacking.

That said, I still found myself thoroughly engaged in the plot. I love high fantasy, and I appreciate the Korean setting with so few books out there set in Asia. The plot may be archetypal with the prophecy, the hero and his group, and all, but the characters are new and refreshing. Kira is a fierce demon slayer with a strong sense of duty as a warrior and as a family member, though her sense of duty as a female is lacking due to her warrior upbringing. Being from an Asian background, I really appreciate her sense of duty to her family, though I find it harder to relate to her tendency to charge into things when overcome by her emotions. And it did become annoying when it kept happening. Othertimes, she has sharp senses from her heightened sense of smart to her intuition as a warrior, so it added inconsistancies to her character.

My favorite characters have to be Taejo Jaewon. Taejo is the sweetest boy ever, and I can understand Kira's protectiveness over him. He's really naive, and his insistence to take part in the action often leads the group--or at least Kira--into grave danger. However, he has a strong sense of honor and duty, and I have to remember that he's a boy who has to grow up too fast too soon. Even more than the sweet little boy, I have to like the casual potential love interest. Love doesn't play a huge role in the story with Kira determined not to marry. When a passing traveler takes an interest in her and joins the group, however, who knows what will happen in the future? Jaewon adds humor to the novel. He always has a witty remark on hand. I like the guy and hope to see a lot more of him in the future.

Things get really predictable as the story progresses with Kira taking a lot of the action for herself. At least characters were getting killed off. As cruel as it sounds, when royalty is getting killed off, there have to be high stakes, which means a lot of people are going to die, and I appreciate the realness these deaths add to the story. That said, while I did enjoy reading this book, it didn't really stand out to me either. I couldn't feel any intensity to the emotions of the characters, though so many tragic things keep taking place on after another, including the deaths of so many loved ones. I didn't empathize with Kira's pain at being treated with such hostility from the people she protects, and I didn't understand the characters' motivations much of the time, such as Jaewon's decision to stick with the group.

This is a fairly quick read that some will enjoy and some will not. If you like fantasy and/or historical Korea, then I recommend giving this a try.

A copy provided by Harper Collins for review.

8 comments on "Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh"
  1. I really like fantasy, but I think that world-building is essential and it's a shame that it lacks on that aspect. The sound from the plot is good and I like description of Jaewon! Nice review.


    1. Yeah, the world is so interesting. I really would have liked to see more of it. But, yes, the plot is good, and it was still worth the read. It's better for younger readers though because of the minimal world building.

  2. I'm a huge fantasy fan and after reading a lot of reviews for this I'm not sure I'll like it. I like the Asian feel to it all, that definitely appeals to me, but the tell instead of show would be something I wouldn't care for. I'm glad that you ended up enjoying the story even if it wasn't great for you.

    1. Thanks, Candace. Yeah, it probably wouldn't be for you being the big fantasy reader that you are. Also, the language seems more directed towards younger readers.

  3. I'm so so about fantasy -- it's definitely not my favorite. I think I'll pass on this one because it really needs to be an outstanding fantasy for me to read it.

    Thanks for the honest review

    1. Thanks, Eva. Yeah, I wouldn't recommend this for readers who typically shy away from fantasy.

  4. I've heard this is more on the MG side. Knowing that going into the read will help if it is indeed so. I hate expecting a YA when it's more juvenile.

    1. Yeah, it's more on the MG side. It definitely helps to know this going into a book. I kind of expected it when I saw how thin the ARC was, and I do enjoy a good MG fantasy. When comparing this to MG fantasies that I loved in the past, however, it doesn't match up. This is like an MG fantasy with a YA heroine, and it just doesn't work out for me. I did enjoy reading about Kira's adventures in this book, but I'm not sure how I'll feel about the sequel. It seems to be heading down the typical YA paranormal/fantasy plotline.


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