Copperstone, S. The High King’s Embalmer. Book Review.

A copy of this novel was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

The first few pages I thought I was going to enjoy the High King’s Embalmer. I love paranormal histories and thought this was going to take place in ancient Egypt. However it turned out to be a fantasy that takes place on another planet. That’s fine, but trying to follow a history of different cultures mushed aimlessly together was confusing. I wondered if this was a middle book in a series.

Jibade was a half human half jackal mystical type creature who embalmed members of the royal family and had special powers. What a great idea for protagonist.

Copperstone explained the embalming process in great deal, which was quite fascinating the first time. Not so much the second lengthy explanation or subsequent references. Slowing down scenes with overly detailed explanations made this reader impatient to get on with the story. But what was the story?

First I thought it was going to be a story about a badly treated slave leading other slaves in a fight for freedom. But when scene after scene unfolded, this happened, then this happened, than he did this, then they did this, with no clear building connected conflict, I lost interest. Then the story went in a different direction and I thought, oh, here we go, but that dragged on and then story ended with the promise of more to come. The novel lacked narrative drive. Very early on in the story, it should be crystal clear to the reader what the protagonist wants and what are his greatest impediments.

The protagonist’s personality felt inconsistent. Just when I would begin to develop empathy for him, he would become ghoulish and cold. The drawn out bloodlust lost my interest after a while. At one point he stepped completely out of character to risk everything to embalm a strange woman, but other times he was a ruthless killer. His devotion to the royal family, which brutally abused him, was inexplicable.

Throughout the book there were scattered typos, grammatical errors, and just plain strange sentences. “You do not have the fear of them I expected to FINE.” “SHIF back and forth” “What else did you do to me while I’m asleep?” “Instead of expecting to see two bounty hunters, a smoldering brilliance haloed a young, rugged man I didn’t recognize.” “My stomach to growled from a deep longing to bite into his heart.”

The shifts back and forth between his human and jackal form were hard to follow and often seemed completely unnecessary. “Throwing away such a great amount of energy to keep human form irked me, but I had no choice. It took less energy to retain a form, and no energy at all to keep my native form-the jackal.”

The writing style and dialogue, especially the inner dialogue, was rigid and ostentatious, but peppered with breaks such as, “a large vase worked great to prop her head back.”
I know cliffhanger series books are quite popular now, but I expected some type of resolution to something. The slave’s circumstances didn’t change it all. There was no real character progress either. This book needed to be given to an editor for feedback on plot and character development.