The Legend of Eli Monpress

Rachel Aaron
The Legend of Eli Monpress Cover

The Legend of Eli Monpress

Ann Walker

I wish I had known (and if it's stated somewhere, I haven't found it) if this series is YA, or even middle-grade. It's moderately entertaining, but, I don't know, shallow? There's no depth to the characters, nor to the worlds. And it's not that's it's a poorly-written series; some of the plot elements are very imaginative, and the first page of the first book was a hoot:

"In the prison under the castle Allaze, in the dark, moldy cells where the greatest criminals in Mellinor spent the remainder of their lives counting rocks to stave off madness, Eli Monpress was trying to wake up a door."

It was like going to a restaurant and ordering the luncheon special: chicken, rice, vegetable - and getting plain boiled chicken, white rice, and green beans. Nothing wrong with those things, but maybe I wanted something a bit more sophisticated, you know?

Later: I finally figured out the main thing that was bugging me: we're never given any reason to really care about the characters. Eli Monpress is a smartass thief/wizard; Miranda, the wizard who's trying to capture him is even more insufferable than Hermione on her worst days, and as for the pair who, as far as I could figure, were the emotional core of the story - the swordsman Josef, and the mysterious girl Nico - we are never given any hint as to why Josef and Nico are so attached to each other, or to Eli. There's lots of fighting to the death (and back) with lots of bad people, monsters, and demons. There's lots of screaming and screeching, and then there's lots of Great Spirits and Whatnots pausing the action to pontificate.

It's entirely possible that middle-graders would love this, and other than than all the fighting to the death, with lots of very big and famous and very sharp swords there's nothing that a parent should be worried about.