Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: Cutlass by Ashley Nixon


Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy's fiancĂ© seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

NOTE: I received a review copy via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

Cutlass had a wonderful premise that grabbed my attention right away. No wonder I found myself contacting the author and requesting a review copy. Having a story revolving around pirates and their adventures at sea was what won me over.

It was quite unfortunate that the story wasn't written in the most hooking way. I was largely disappointed with both the writing and the characters.

Writing style:
The story was told from several POV's, all in third person. Sometimes it took a while to figure out whose viewpoint I was reading at the moment, which was confusing and frustrating. The writing style was at times too descriptive and overbearing.

Story line:
In general, I liked the plot of this story and how it progressed. However, there were too many loopholes that Nixon and her editor have failed to stitch. For instance, while in the middle of the sea, how do you communicate with the people on land? Seeing that everyone inland was well informed of everything happening with the pirates, it would have been nice to have this explained. Also, time and space seemed to be warped quite a lot, especially since there was no world map to go by.

- Freedom of choice being the main theme here
- Tyranny of rulers
- There are different kinds of pirates
- People aren't always who they appear to be

Barren Reed, being the lead male character here, is many things. He is the king's nephew, he's half-elf and he's also a pirate Captain. He's only 18, but he has a ship and a crew loyal to him and his every whim. Or so it appears. Barren has been obsessed with a desire to revenge his father's murder and everything he ever does is toward this sole purpose. His every breath is taken in the hopes that one day he would lure out his treacherous brother William and duel him to avenge Jess Reed's death. Unfortunately, Barren is young and rash, and even though he has wise people on his crew, he never ever listens. Seeing that none of his fellow pirates had anything to gain from his vengeful behavior, I find it quite unbelievable that anyone at all would follow young captain Barren Reed on his quest to kill his brother. Much more when things got more serious.

Larkin Lee is the female protagonist in this novel. She messes up Barren Reed's plans on many occasions. Larkin is also young, and has the same half-human half-elf heritage that Barren has. Yet, this is their only similarity. While Barren is an outlaw, a scruple-less murderer, Larkin is the daughter of a Lord. She's about to marry Barren's brother, when the pirate kidnaps her. That's when the story finally begins. Traveling on Barren's ship, Larkin learns the dark truths behind her father's incredulous behavior, Barren's desire for revenge and the death of her own mother.

Leaf is the elven prince who travels side by side with Barren Reed. He is the wise one in this pair, though his advice is never ever heeded. I enjoyed the elf's jabs, though they never accomplished anything. I was unsure of Leaf's purpose in this story, seeing that the only things he was used for was healing, bickering and fighting.

Cove Rowell, being the Ambassador and a disguised pirate, was a character I had a hard time understanding. If everyone doubted his loyalty to the crown, how did he manage to not get executed on the gallows?

William Reed was a puppet in the King and Lord Christopher Lee's hands. He believed to be respected, to be one step ahead, while the entire time he was being manipulated. His desire to have Larkin as his wife streamed of nothing else but the fact that he'd rather have her dead, than see her in Barren's arms.

Christopher Lee is a man of no honor. He seemed to live in his own world, while trying to somehow play cards he did not have. The way he treated his daughter was cruel and I'm not sure how Larkin didn't figure out his true nature sooner.

Tethurion, the reigning king, turned out to be exactly as expected. People of power always seem to share the same exact traits - blindness, no honor and a well developed skill to lie and deceive.

In conclusion:
The potentially great story that Cutlass was set out to tell, was largely ruined by several factors. Some due merely to editorial slack, others to holes in the plot, and others had to do with the depth of the characters.

My rating is: