A not-so-rave review for Ravine.
Medieval fantasy novels have been done to death. Unless you have something new to add to the genre--by which, I mean it contains absolutely none of the tropes present in Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, or Eye of the World--you had best leave it be.
"But wait!" you protest. "That's everything I know about Medieval fantasy!"
Yeah, and it's everything we know already, too. So cut it out. Seriously. Give your readers some credit. Assume they've read at least 10% of the fantasy books that you have, and plan your world accordingly. Because I was literally ticking off things on my fingers, like, "I bet this guy played WoW in college. I bet he likes Peter Jackson. I bet his bookshelves are full of the three Terrys: Goodkind, Brooks, and Pratchett."
(After a while, I got bored, and started ticking off the phallic objects. Penis-shaped castle, penis-shaped rock, penis-shaped halberd, penis-shaped sword, penis-shaped tree, penis-shaped dragon. This, too, soon got boring. Then I just started skimming pages.)
Can't you just taste the snark?
Okay, I'll say something nice. The graphics in Ravine are unique in the sense that some of the illustrations look almost like photographs, whereas other scenes blend into a rather typical semi-real backdrop with less real backgrounds typical of computer games like Runescape and World of Warcraft. The full-page illustrations depicting various metal symbols were especially lovely. At first I was impressed by the artwork--and I still am, even though it has a slightly amateurish quality, like something you might see on Deviant Art (note: OMG. APPARENTLY HE IS ON DEVIANTART)--but after a while I got the sense that the artwork was intended to distract the reader from the convoluted and derivative storyline.
Also, just once, could we have a fantasy novel written by a dude that takes place in a medieval world that is not completely penis-centric and does not hyper-sexualize women?
I have literally just seen more boob than I did in the girls' locker rooms back in high school PE. He gets bonus points for actually making female armor that covers all the vital organs, because you would be surprised how many artists don't. You really would.
Apart from that, I just can't say much in this book's favor. Why? Because all the tropes are here. Enigmatic black dude from lands far away who has equally enigmatic advice. Baby-faced rogue-boy who's our (*sigh*) well-meaning but naive protagonist. A girl who wants to be able to fight like the men-folk, dammit! A frail and beautiful princess who is as wise as she is lovely (*sigh*). Tongue in cheek gods. Heavy emphasis on Norse and Celtic mythology. Names with lots of L's and Z's. Dragons. People who have special relationships with dragons. Blah blah blah blah blah.
1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars.