Where Honesty Never Ends.
Note: This, along with the other two books of this trilogy, was given in exchange for an honest review.
Greetings! The Review Board is here to discuss Circadian Circle by Alesha L. Escobar, the final book in The Gray Tower Trilogy.
First with her thoughts, Mini Truth.
This will probably be the quickest review I’ve done for TRB (or on my own) to date.
I was disenchanted with this trilogy as a whole. From the first book I found way too many things that I felt were not kosher with the series.
First, I must say this; I am a lover of fantasy fiction, and I realize that in books of fantasy fiction the truth must be stretched to make way for the fictional aspect of the story. However, the trick to a good fictional story is to make it believable, and I felt that the Gray Tower Trilogy failed in that aspect. This is a grand shame because the elements of the series could’ve made for an outstanding trio. Yet, the lackluster articulation made this collection highly unattractive to me.
Following are the elements that I did not like about Circadian Circle:
As a whole, I’d like to reiterate that I was not impressed with this story, or the trilogy for that matter, and was very let down… AGAIN.
Unfortunately, because I’d hoped that this book would make up for the shortcomings of the rest, yet didn’t, my rating for this one is even lower than the others.
I’m sorry, but the Gray Tower Trilogy was just not what I expected it to be at all.
Truth says… 3 TRB Stars.
Now let’s discover what Nikki sees in the story.
Okay, so in the third book of this trilogy, Isabella has to crank up her powers and learn how to harness them to save the world, whilst holding on to her humanity in order to finally defeat the evil Octavian. In order for Isabelle to complete her mission though, she is forced to make a deal with a demon that puts her relationship with her friends and allies into question. When the Cruenti Master kidnaps her beloved family, she must do all in her power to save them.
But, I knew that she would, and that was the problem for me, the element of danger just wasn’t there because the previous books have her doing much the same thing. I liked the twist when her father and mentor, hatch a scary alternative plan should her Drifter abilities fail. I won’t say what it is, because that would spoil it for future readers.
Again the opening is exciting and Isabelle has to do a spot of magic to get herself and her companions out of another life threatening situation. I really didn’t want to read any more of the same old stuff, and although there are some newish adversaries, the action and terror, was similar to the previous books. I’m not sure what else I can say that I haven’t said before, but here goes. There are lots of magical stuff and creatures such as demons, warlocks, evil wolves, telekinesis, mind reading, a living statue, tarot stuff and so on, then – enter a dragon. Phew, with so much going on, can there be any room left for a story line? I mean, a different-ish one? Not really.
After the opening action, more long sections of plot recap and exposition. I wanted something different to keep me interested in the story and not scream at the page, “Get on with it!” There still isn’t much of a Nazi WW2 storyline. They do come in and out of the plot here and there, but there wasn’t enough actual historical detail for me. I think it could do with some cutting down and sharpening of content to make it less similar to the first two books.
On a more positive note, there were a lot of good action sequences that were quite well paced and full of tension. Most of the characters are well defined, but again I would have preferred a few less so that I could focus on the main protagonists and learn more about them. Hence the reason I haven’t singled any one out in particular to talk about. Isabella’s character began to irritate me after a while. She came across a little whiny in this third outing and I didn’t really believe in her vulnerability, or her emotional concern for her family enough to make her actions totally convincing.
I found some of the descriptions too wordy and almost like stage directions, and I became bored with so many of them. Again wanting Alesha to get on with the story and not have to read in minutia exactly how A gets to B physically. It left nothing to the imagination.
There was an awful lot of eating going on too. However, Escobar does have a good narrative style on occasions that really comes alive when she gets into the action sections. This is largely due to the short sentences construction and chapter lengths.
Vision Verdict: 5 TRB Stars
The ending was a little flat for me since the previous action was quite thrilling. Also, I’m not sure if the ending is a conclusion, or just a break until the next time. I don’t think that I would care to read another instalment if the plot remains the same. However, lovers of urban fantasy and magic may enjoy this book and its over-complicated storyline.
Now, thoughts from the Unleashed One.
I know you guys are probably wondering why I’ve put in what appears to be a musical commercial break speaking of an emotional roller coaster. It is because that is the best way to describe what this book (as well as the other two in The Gray Tower Trilogy) has taken me on.
Before I dig all these feelings out of the deepest darkest corners of my being, let me share what brought out some snapshots of happy.
Happy Happy, Joy Joy (Pros)
1. Syntax stayed the course. There were very few mistakes to be seen in the .mobi copy I had for review.
2. Abstract covers remained in unity for the presentation of the trilogy.
3. There were actually a few characters that I got a chance to know, amidst all of the narrative, dialogue and action. One character I liked from the start was Gregory, despite him being distrusted by everyone. Another character I found enticing was Ammon. Yes, I know it is strange because he is the one the reader is supposed to hate, yet there was something cunning in the fact that he seemed always one step ahead. Finally, there’s Nikon: the more I discovered about her, the more I admired her “this is how I am, no apologies”. There is this resolve and tenacity in her that garnered my respect.
4. Although the author (upon initial reach out) stated that these works couldn’t actually stand alone, for me they actually could. This is a plus to the reader who wants to read something without being lost, or to one who has read one book and opts not to continue with the rest of the books. In other words, one doesn’t feel as if he has to finish the whole thing. There is enough back tracking to fill in the gaps, even if you were to start with this book or with book two (Dark Rift), as opposed to book one (Tower’s Alchemist).
5. The author has a great way of describing the setting prior to some of the action sequences.
6. There was a better balance in chapter lengths.
Okay, happy feeling dissipating. Time to grab some a tall glass, put in a circle of Tropical Punch Kool-Aid and blend it with the slight powder known as sugar. Maybe that will help me.
The Dark Rifts (Cons)
1. Rift of “Where in the Land of Oz Am I?”
In Circadian Circle, I was trying to figure out the time line. Was it in fact still World War II? The setting wasn’t as prominent this time around. If one was following the trilogy, there are certain events that happened in its predecessor that makes you wonder how current events could be taking place. One is the connection between Isabella and Brande after a tragedy strikes with someone else she was close to. Some form of time stamping would have helped developing side stories make sense.
2. Rift of “In My (fill in the blanks) Accent”
Okay, should I put on my professional on-the-phone accent or my hanging out with the girls accent? I admit, this is an Unleashed quirk but the reason I bring it up was because the repetition of this got me irked. For example, one of the Master wizards Ekuweme, from my understanding, is Nigerian. Why would it have to be emphasized that he’s speaking in a “Nigerian accent”? Even if he isn’t, and he is someone who learned Nigerian as a language, it would just make more sense to speak Nigerian, as opposed to “in my ______ accent”. The same thing was done with another wizard Cathana, giving great weight to her “Irish accent”. What does bringing spotlight to these accents have to do with the story, and why with just these two individuals and none of the others? What in the name of Accent, Sazón, and Adobo is going on here?
3. Rift of “Sticky Situations TIVO”
Have you ever looked at a show and thought, “Hey they used that same trick three seasons ago!”, or wanted to look at a new episode of a program, only to discover that you’re watching a rerun? That is the best way to discover the crisis cycle that is Isabella. Here is the overall summary using my own made up actors:
Waver of Red Flag: He is mighty dangerous.
Fool Who Rushes In: I got this. All I need are my circles, my fires, my red lipstick, and the stuff that makes the most vicious villains go to sleep right between my cleavage.
(Fool realizes that she’s way in over her head too late. Fades to black to wake up roughed up and tied up. Trash talking with villain ensues. Special fire and circle powers activate and just when Fool is at her weakest the cavalry, including Waver of Red Flag, saves the day in the nick of time.)
A few chapters later… wait, this again! No, trust me… the Zaman’s Fire is next. Oh, there it goes! Yes, the Circle (the Protection one) will arrive shortly. Boom, there it is!
Unleashed, you don’t mean to tell me there will be a sneak attack. Oh, my God, where did that thing come from? A team of help? Say it isn’t so; Unleashed, it’s like you’re a psychic!
Um, no, just that it happened in the other two books, and multiple times in this one. It almost makes the conflict seem not that impressive.
4. Rift of “Wait, did this turn into a comedy book?”
Circadian Circle has been deemed fantasy fiction, action adventure, and/or even a mashup. Who knew that it was a comedy book too? Wait, I wasn’t supposed to be laughing, was I? Well, let’s think. There’s a heroine that the reader is supposed to get behind that uses her temper more than her brain to make decisions, then thinks she is getting over on the bad guys but playing right into their hands.
On top of that, the dialogue Isabella has back and forth between people makes me shake my head in confusion and disdain. Plus, she is supposed to have over the top powers but instead of being trained earlier in this book (hell, even the last book), Isabella wants to get down to business without reading the instruction manual on how to do things properly but behaves like a brat when things don’t go her way.
If this isn’t Magic Bloopers 101, I don’t know what is. This could also be called I Can Do Bad All By Myself (the Drifter edition), and even Stealthless, because most of Isabella’s “spy activity” result in epic fails.
5. Rift of “‘m Just Not that Into You”
Isabella, Isabella, Isabella! So many high hopes. At first, I was just saddened by your lack of spy swagger (1st book), then disappointed in your lack of opportunity to engage with your emotions (2nd book). This right here is just stupidity.
Yes, Isabella may be the high and mighty Drifter but her overall disposition didn’t grow with her powers. Her stubbornness and inability to really adapt hindsight and truly blossom caused me to disengage from her story. It’s hard for me to get behind three long books worth of a person who is the main focus if the progress is lackluster or nonexistent. I’m not saying a hero doesn’t make mistakes but the greatest of heroes uses unfortunate circumstances to not only persevere but flourish into a better person and not meet those pitfalls again. You don’t continue to make errors; you go outside yourself and think of the whole as opposed to your own selfish needs and wants. That’s the meaning of sacrifice and it doesn’t always make one popular. I found Isabella to care way too much about popularity and wanting to cheat her way to being powerful rather than learning to be accountable, responsible, and diligent in her resolve. As my grandma would say, “She’s running around like a chicken with her head cut off.”
6. Rift of “What is THAT doing there?”
Brande and Isabella, oh so adorable! How did we get here? That goes back to that 1st rift I mentioned. How was there time to develop a love story among the Wolves, the Black Dragon, Ammon, saving people, developing maximized Drifter powers and Octavian? The narration of it all was put together in a nice little “matter-of-fact” package.
7. Rift of “Are You Serious?”
All I have to say is that the ending didn’t match the intensity of the action at all. Even now, I still sit here stunned.
Unleashed Verdict: 5.5 out of 10 TRB Stars
Now on to do some final thoughts on The Gray Tower trilogy (overall).
To conclude, all I will say is this:
If you want to go on an emotional roller coaster ranging from confusion, shock, shaking your head, and all things in between, leading to a very eerie pounding in your head and heart, then by all means, go for it.
As for me, I’m glad to get off this ride. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. There are not enough Circles of Protection, mental locks, talismans, heart binds, and Zaman’s Fires to invest any further.
Closing all of the Rifts with my Add All Scores and Subtract by Number of Reviewers Circle:
Overall, Circadian Circle receives 4.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.
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