Review: The Ancients by Nick Marsh

The AncientsThe Ancients by Nick Marsh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Ancients is a fantasy novel with an element of science fiction thrown in. The setting is the aftermath of a civil war, with the king captured and his former advisor and friend installing himself as the Lord Protector. The last of the Royal Guard, Dazlar, returns home to his village of birth. Just outside his village, he discovers the body of a dead woman on the side of the road. Hoping that someone will recognize her in the village, Dazlar takes the body with him, but then the body comes back to life. After a short homecoming, Dazlar agrees to take the woman, who has no memory of who she is, to the nearest large settlement. The problem is that the woman is of interest to the Lord Protector, because of her link to an artifact left by the Ancients, beings of great power who created the world and ruled over them for centuries before mysteriously disappearing. Legend has it that the Ancients will return. The Lord Protector thinks that this woman is one of them.
The cover of the book has an interesting composition, featuring a number of the characters from the book. The artwork is of a decent level, but palette is rather dark and difficult to make out as a thumbnail.
The characterisation and dialogue is functional, the amount of description is adequate. Word confusion, typos and clumsy sentence structure plague this book throughout, to the point that it was becoming annoying. The story feels a little ponderous in the middle with world-building that isn’t always relevant to what is happening now or not driving the plot forward. The build-up of the romance between Dazlar and the leading lady is handled clumsily to the point that it seems to come out of no where. The rivalry between Dazlar and his former colleague Ellis, isn’t given a proper showdown and I felt more sympathy with the villain, the Lord Protector, instead of feeling disturbed by his slow descent into madness.
I’ve recently reviewed a couple of novels that use gaming as a way to set themselves apart from the crowd. The science fiction element of The Ancients tries to the same with subtle hints of the ‘game-world’ suffering synching problems, like in the Assassin Creed games. Although this aspect of the plot is essential to understanding the motives of the Lord Protector, it feels contrived because it almost feels as if the author wants to keep it a secret, but it comes across as the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.
The premise of the book isn’t bad but I find I struggle to wholly recommend this book. This is the author’s third book and after reading the first chapter I had high expectations, which unfortunately weren’t met. Therefore this book scores only 2 stars for me.

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