Review: The Sunset Warrior by Eric Van Lustbader

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Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781480470897
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: In an underground world, a rogue swordsman fights to save civilization
Centuries after an ecological calamity turned the surface of the world to ice, mankind has retreated beneath the earth’s crust. In the contained environment of the Freehold, civilization reverts to feudalism and lords known as Saardin maintain their grip on power through the strength of their Bladesmen. Among these subterranean samurai is Ronin, an unaffiliated warrior who lives by his blade alone. When war threatens to engulf the Freehold, this wandering fighter will be called on to save mankind. As battle draws near, Ronin attempts to stay out of the conflict. But in an environment as claustrophobic as this crumbling underground shelter, neutrality is impossible. To prevent what remains of humanity from destroying itself in an underground war, the Bladesman will embark on a quest that takes him to the frozen surface of a forgotten world to feel for the first time the heat of the sun.

Review: No need to read the book after reading the publishers description.
As you can see there are two covers. The horse is pretty cool but has nothing to do with the story as it takes place underground where there are no horsies. The second cover looks like you caught some astronaut dude taking a shit in a space-commode.

This was one choppy read. One second your getting laid along with Ronin and the next sentence you’re talking to Stahlig, the medicine man. The whole novel has weird story-line shifts, as if the author forgot to insert page breaks. In one scene, Ronin declines an invitation to have some wine with his friend, Nirren. Then in the next paragraph he is sharing a cup of wine in Nirrens quarters. Huh?
Borros, the magic man, dies. Then all of a sudden Ronin needs to get back and see him. Huh? And later we find the mad man alive and well where he left him. Fug. Even some of the sentence structure where dialogue occurred was choppy and stilted to the point of incomprehension. I just cruised through those sections hoping all would become clear. Luckily the novel moved at a snails pace in the action department, so you had plenty of time to develop your own story-line to fill in the gaps. Yeah, that’s wrong but sometimes your own imagination suffices in the storm of confusion.

I read where some reviewers had the same issues with this novel and subsequently dropped their ratings. I liked the characters and the story-line but it fell short in terms of cohesiveness. Perhaps the proof reader/editor was a no-show on this one (i.e. snorting coke with orangutans).

K’reen, the hot chick, was scantily clad as well as developed (er, as a character). She could have been a good main character in a supportive role yet was relegated to sex kitten/tantrum bitch. The Salamander could also have been a great character with a bigger than life story-line, but the author chose to limit his development. The author hints that the Salamander likes boyz as evidenced by the toyz in his abode as well as Ronin’s possible reason for leaving his training.

The big glaring hole in the story-line (which may be supported by prior works in the author’s universe) is why the Freehold is in constant training to defend itself. Against what? Where is the threat that could create a long-term warrior society? So you train to become a bladesman, then Chondrin under a Saardin. Why? Where is the supportive logic? Were they historically fighting other Freeholds? Did other Freeholds self-implode (as hinted at) and if so, why?

There is a lot of, secret mincing about, that is tiring as it leads nowhere. Mainly because if you find yourself sneaking along with Ronin, avoiding the shadowy daggam guards and really getting into the story….you suddenly find yourself in an arena fighting for your life and wondering if this is a flashback or a current scene in the story-line.

This novel needs a big reset button on the cover. Keep the story-line, develop the relevant characters, keeps things logically supported and COHESIVE. There, besides solving all the worlds problems I fix shjt I know nothing about.

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4 thoughts on “Review: The Sunset Warrior by Eric Van Lustbader

  1. I just finished reading The Ninja by this same author. Is this another of his books that was written 20 – 30 years ago and now Open Road Media is republishing it? That’s what the deal is with The Ninja, and as I read your review it occurred to me that some of the same flaws you mention in The Sunset Warrior are also present in The Ninja. Makes me wonder if the same problems are as evident in the Bourne books he did. But THE best part of your review, the part that is right on the money is your description of the cover art on the second book. I’ll be LOLing all night over that one because it’s so accurate.
    Read On!
    Gabby

  2. Well this sucks. I have the first few books in this series, all the way up to Beneath an Opal Moon. Guess I won’t be looking at it anytime soon :/

  3. I totally don’t agree. That trilogy is one of the best I ever read. The answers to the criticism are explained as the story goes along as to why they have a feudal society. Very good character description (physically). I must admit there is some character development needed but over all a very fine read.

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