The publishers of Catherine Banner’s The Eyes of a King have talked a lot about the fact that its author was only 14 when she started writing her book. Unlike the books of fellow wunderkinder Christopher Paolini and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, however, Banner’s novel doesn’t actually need the additional hype. The Eyes of a King is far from perfect, but it would have been worthy of publication regardless of its author’s age.
Banner’s protagonist is Leo North, a fifteen-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother and little brother in the miserable, war-torn country of Malonia. Leo is glumly convinced he will be forced to join the army as soon as he comes of age, but his life changes when he finds a magical book in the snow—a book that tells him closely-guarded secrets about his country’s history, and shows him images of another world....
The Eyes of a King is poorly balanced and overly ambitious. Banner’s dual storylines tie together awkwardly, several subplots should have been either cut or better developed, and too many of her characters meet unhappy ends*. Happily, these are faults of editing, not creativity, and while Banner's book has its fair share of problems, it's plenty creative—inventive, interesting, and well-told. Time will undoubtedly improve Ms. Banner’s editing skills, and The Eyes of a King makes it obvious that she has raw talent to burn.
*Plus, a disproportionate ratio of the book’s female characters end up pregnant by fifteen. Like, three out of four.
Labels: Book Reviews