Guest Book Review: Crystal Warrior (Legend of the Crystals #1) by Mike Cooley
This is the first book by Mike Cooley. It’s a high fantasy adventure story. Larissa, the main protagonist, is supposedly the legendary warrior, who is destined to get all six of the magic crystals and save her world. Standing in her way is the Triad, who want to use the crystals to bring about death and destruction.
The books starts off gritty and relentless and doesn’t stop. Within the first chapter, Larissa is running for her life, and the book continues at a nearly breakneck speed. The chapters are short, adding to the pace of the book, which is good for a story about people running from place to place.
The world building is excellent in this book. Cooley has clearly thought about Agorai very carefully, giving names to various plants and animals, cities, food, and more. The book is full of detail about the world, with strange wondrous names, something I knew threw off other reviewers. I really liked it, it gave me a sense of the world and a “being there” feeling. This wasn’t Earth with a few strange names, it was Agorai. That being said, some of the animals were not given any sort of comparison to draw from. There are birds and small animals constantly referred to but no description, I didn’t know if they were supposed to resemble rodents, squirrels, or what. The same thing with some of the birds.
Directions are very important to the story, and it would have been nice to have had a map printed in the book to see where the cities, rivers, and islands were in relation to each other. But each city was unique and well thought out. Cooley put a lot of love and thought into this world.
My biggest problem is the pacing. The fast pace suits an adventure book, with opposing forces racing for the same objects. But it leaves little room for character moments. The biggest flaw is the budding romance between two of the minor characters. They meet, travel, then one is killed and the other grieves and cries and tells how much they loved each other. I never, ever, got the sense they had a relationship. Some of the journeys take place over several hours, sometimes days, and these lulls would have been perfect opportunities for character building moments. We don’t learn much about the characters outside of the legend and their mission, and if feels like a wasted opportunity. Some of the characters are quite endearing.
I also wished for more of a character arc from Larissa. Sometimes she seems very unsure if she is indeed the legendary warrior. Sometimes she acts very warrior-like. A more clearly defined arc would have been better, in my opinion.
There is a techinical glitch in the ebook in which some sections of paragraphs are immediately repeated. I don’t know if it is in the original manuscript, perhaps something that happened in the editing stage, or if it was a glitch in the formatting process. In any case, it is jarring but should not prevent a reader from enjoying the story or giving this book a try.
This book is a fast-paced adventure full of magic and excellent world building. The ending sets up the sequel nicely. I really recommend this book for fantasy fans.