I was duly warned. Donaldson loves to write unlikable characters. He most certainly continues this trend in his latest book Seventh Decimate. The main character, Prince Bifalt, is completely and utterly infuriating at times. Funnily enough he reminded be rather too much of someone I know in the real world (I ain’t gonna name names) which isn’t really want you want to see in your fantasy heroes. Yet, when I closed the book after finishing the last page, I found that I actually liked the book. In fact I liked it quite a bit.
Prince Bifalt is stupid, arrogant, ignorant, impulsive, belligerent, stubborn, conflicted, and… just… ridiculous! And he takes the all-time award for the worst fudgin’ diplomat ever. But he is also honorable, loyal, courageous, and strong. Most importantly though, he is well written, so you really feel you get to know him and the way his poor excuse for a brain operates. I like that.
The world-building is weak. The villages don’t have names, they are just called villages. You know nothing at all about the world the story is taking place in. You are given a couple of place names, there’s magic, some people have guns, and some don’t. That’s about all you get – I’m not even joking. Part of me wonders if this was done intentionally as later parts of the story give glimpses of a much larger and highly realized world. The story is also written from the perspective of a bunch of ignorant and clueless soldiers who know nothing about the world so I guess it makes sense that we as the reader know nothing and learn nothing. Prince Bifalt does a great job of learning as little as possible due to his personality as well.
The main thing I liked most about this book was the sense of mystery. You’re never quite sure what is going to happen next or what you will find out at the end of the journey. I won’t spoil these things for you now. Suffice to say that I found the ending to be very satisfying.
I recommend this book to those looking for something a bit different and don’t mind the main character being unlikable. As readers we do like our main characters to be relatable but every now and then an out-there one can be quite refreshing.
Have you read this? What did you think?