Once upon a time, more than a decade ago now, I picked up this book from a bargain table. I’m sure I paid less than five dollars, but still. Mistakes were made. I have regrets.
Judging by the original publication date, I’m going to hazard a guess that this book is the result of Del Rey trying to recreate Christopher Paolini’s magic formula by finding another young man with literary ambitions and publishing his fantasy-themed teenage doodles. I’m further guessing that they snapped up this manuscript, which was in no way ready to see the light of day, and rushed it through edits in an attempt to strike while the Paolini iron was still hot. Whether or not that’s how it went down, this is not the “fabulous first novel in a major new epic fantasy series” the blurb promises. The writing is weak and amateurish and whatever editing it received couldn’t save it. By putting this book out in the state it’s in, Del Rey did Bowling one hell of a disservice. It’s no wonder the rest of the series never materialized.
I should have put this book down and walked away, but the pedant in me (that mean, bitchy pedant) kept turning pages and taking notes. When I get like this, I think I should change my name to Darth Pedantic or something similar. (Honestly, that probably should have been my name from the start.) For the curious, I’ll put my bitchy, pedantic notes under a spoiler tag. (There are a lot, and they're spoilery.) For the not-so-curious, I’ll just say that if you had journaled your D&D campaigns back in high school, they’d probably be on par with this book quality-wise and you might’ve been able to convince Del Rey to publish them during the peak of the Paolini craze.