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The Fanged Crown by Jenna Helland

Posted by travizzt on December 15, 2009

A group of adventurers are on a mission to find and check on a hidden colony deep in the jungle of Chult. However, they find something more than what they expected.


The Fanged Crown
by Jenna Helland- This is the first book in The Wilds series of stand-alone novels set in the Forgotten Realm universe. The other stand-alone novels are The Restless Shore by James P. Davis, The Edge of Chaos by Jak Koke, and Wrath of the Blue Lady by Mel Odom. This is Jenna Helland’s first foray into the Forgotten Realms.

The story follows are party of adventures, or more accurately, sailors, as they search for a colony on the jungle island of Chult. The main characters are Harp, Boult, Kitto, and Verran. During the party’s search for the lost colony, they come across the jungles horrors, including a giant ant, a huge lizard, and lizard men. Throughout the story, we are given parts of each characters back story. From the back stories, we discover that Harp’s one time love is among the missing colonists. As the story progresses, we learn of a plot to take over the kingdom of Tethyr lies within the very jungle our heroes are exploring. Do they find the lost colony and Harp’s lost love, and unravel the plot?

Negatives:
1) Time Jumps. Now I understand the need to tell a back story of characters that we will probably never have another chance to see, but having these sudden jumps back and forth through time to tell it really does take the reader out of the moment. Having one chapter with our heroes and the next chapter about someone and some event that seems so unrelated to the plot does take away from the experience. However, later on, it doesn’t become so dramatic and really does seem to add more to each character.
2) Character Development. Now, the first half of the story this isn’t the problem. The second half is an entirely different story. The problem, I think, is that the story really picks up and tries to rush to a finish, and this is why the  character development suffers. There are, however, little sections were some more development is inserted, but these times are as “fleshed” out as before.
3) Cliffhanger. Now the ending just… ends. It feels like an unfinished story. It doesn’t help that it ends on a shocking and almost unexpected note. Such a let down.

Positives:
1) Humor. The dialogue was just funny. This is the first book to really make my laugh out loud. The banter between Boult and Harp was very well done. While the first half’s banter seemed natural and flowed really well, the second half’s suffered slightly. It was still funny, it just most of the time it seemed forced.
2) Characters. I really enjoyed the characters. Their back stories were interesting and, for the most part, well thought out. Harp’s dark and horrible experiences were interesting. Boult’s were kind of predictable, yet interesting nonetheless, Kitto’s goes hand in hand with Harp’s so it isn’t as spectacular, and Verran’s is really unique. It also helps the most of the dialogue was interesting and comical.
3) Pacing. The story had very good pacing. It was fast, yet it didn’t feel rushed (until the last 3 chapters). I attribute this to the comical dialogue, it just really helped the “slower parts.” It was a good quick read.

Side notes:
1) Editing? Seriously… Editing errors seem almost everywhere. Names are horribly misspelled and people become switched. It just seemed lazy. But then again, a lot of the newer Forgotten Realms novels have had these same error types.
2) Descriptions of Scenery. It thought that they were really well done. Seeing as the series is The Wilds, I really was able to picture some of these wilder places.
3) Cover Art. Not all that interesting. Not to mention that it doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the story. Sure the water and the vines have some resemblance to a jungle, yet the skeleton and the two “creatures” (really what are they?) didn’t seem to appear in the story. Plus it just seems bland and generic.

Overall: 3/5
Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the story, it may have been a little simple and not all that “fresh,” but I nonetheless enjoyed it. What ruined, so to speak, the story for me is the cliffhanger ending. Seriously, why end a stand-alone novel on a cliffhanger? I really do hope that somewhere down the line I find out more on the events and people.

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