I Know Not: The Legacy Of Fox Crow - James Daniel Ross First, I'm going to point out that this book is actually four stars, not three. It was repetitive and often cheap in the way it jumped from plot point to plot point, and aside from the MC there was almost no characterization of the cast, but for some reason I enjoyed it anyway. The fight scenes, although I'd say they took up a full eighty percent of the book, were very well written and clear. A lot of the narrative was good, and although in general I found the humor to be flat and mostly dreadful, there were one or two places where I did smile. It was a solidly good book to me, not a masterpiece by any means, but as an author's introduction into the world of fantasy? Not bad at all.

Why the three stars, then? Because I did have problems with it. First, let me explain a few points that kept it from being five stars.

1. It was too raw. I don't need to be reading about people's bodily fluids and bodily functions every page. A little gore, people's innards spilling out when their belly is slit open and such, is okay with me--I can live with that. But I didn't need the near-constant musing on other bodily functions.

2. The editing. Oh my gosh, the editing. If an editor has ever touched this book, I'll eat my boots. There were literally hundreds of typos, misspellings, misplaced words. Little things like "a ugly one" and "an Grand Lady" were abundant everywhere. Often there would be hanging sentences in the middle of nowhere, like this: "I walked down the My back began to burn." There were dozens of those, and floating phrases or leftover words besides, from where I'm guessing the author had changed around his sentences and forgotten to erase the remnants. I've never seen such a poorly edited book.

3. My overall impression of the book was favorable, but my impression of the author's intelligence was not. As I mentioned above, the editing was bad; but aside from that, he used long, complicated and unnecessary words like he picked them out of a dictionary without researching them first. Frequently they wouldn't mean what he thought they meant. Also, it seemed to me sometimes as if he ran a search-and-replace on his computer, switching "on" for "upon" to make it sound more epic. This failed dismally and sounded awkward and cumbersome when thrown in with the rest of the dialogue and narrative, which was usually quite modern-flavored. And the tense changes...oh, the tense changes. Sometimes the narrative would switch from present-tense to past-tense six or seven times a paragraph, and sometimes more than once a sentence. PLEASE, authors, stop doing this. Past, or present. Separating the two isn't so hard...If I had to guess without looking, I'd expect to see that an illiterate second-grader with gory nightmares had written this book.

4. The use of the book's name, "I Know Not," was sprinkled throughout the book. Someone would ask him a question, and he'd say it in answer. Now, again, this didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the book. He would normally have said, "I don't know." He didn't, but he didn't use much, if any, other archaic phrasing that would have made "I know not" acceptable. Every time I saw those words on paper, it annoyed me. It was a cheap way for him to get an impressive-sounding title for his book and try to make it fit.

5. It was repetitive. The first half of the book, the MC spent on the road and guarding a noblewoman's carriage. He would walk for a few pages and talk to a young man named Theo, who followed him around like a lost puppy. Then he would find some excuse to get into a fight--bandits, redcaps, a rogue knight, you name it. Then he would walk again, talk to Theo again, and fight again. Lather, rinse, repeat. The second half of the book, he spent almost entirely arguing, surmising, and again, getting into fights. There were a few more unique scenes in the second half, but again, it seemed a little too repetitive.

6. The author's use of faeries--redcaps, goblins, and orcs all apparently are the same type of little beastie--was quick and cheap, just another way for him to squeeze in a fight scene and be able to throw in the synopsis that there were flesh-eating faeries. Also, elves and dwarves were mentioned in passing, but there was never actually an elf or a dwarf in the front of the book. Never. Not one who had a name or a personal description or a line of dialogue. I found this, again, to be an excuse, so if asked, the author can say that he has elves and dwarves in there--and so that there can be comparisons between the way they do things, and the way humans do things. For instance, ALL human locksmiths make the same locks, did you know that? And ALL dwarves make the same locks, but they're markedly different than human locks.

7. Some of his assassination methods were awesome, but others didn't make sense. For instance, their idea of camouflage is to tie rags around their limbs to make them look less human in shape. Here's the thing, my friends: if you tie a light grey rag around your upper arm when you have a black shirt on, all it does it highlight the width of your arm. To break up your shape, you'd need to have dozens of rags, which would naturally build up and make you look more lumpy than human--and would also hinder your movements. This was not a brilliant strategy on the author's part.

8. His word choices were often repeated over and over again in rapid succession. Sometimes I'd see the same word used three times a sentence, or the same phrase used to describe a thing five times a page. Would it have been so hard to describe the thing differently the third or fourth time, or to omit the description altogether? People as "Bags of blood," "Bags of blood and gold," "Bags of blood and bone," just about killed me, I saw it so often. There were others, too--people were described as hollow shells and/or sources of gold many, many times. Very poor usage of space and time, and the repetitive nature of the words/phrases jolted me out of the story more than once.

9. At the end, Crow suddenly remembers his past, and turns into the Evil Simon who he has been most of his life. This treats us to page after page of debate between his old persona, Simon, and his new persona (since he woke in the courtyard), Crow. Crow wants to do this, but Simon squashed him flat, so I did what Simon wanted...Simon told me to just keep walking, but Crow struggled, and I heard myself speak to her...and so on. This was stupid and very lame. Also, Crow was a bad guy, thinking mainly evil thoughts, for about twenty pages near the end; then he suddenly encounters his guild leader and, while I the reader was still clicked into Evil Simon Mode, Crow suddenly proclaims the he won't be an assassin any longer and that he is basically a new man and a hero. WHAT?! Where on earth did that come from?

10. As I pointed out near the top of this review, there was almost no characterization. Crow was cool a lot of the time, but then at other times his sheer stupidity clashed with the rest of his character and he drove me insane. The noblewoman Aelia was bland as a broomstick, and only went through the motions of being human so that the plot could occasionally grate along to the next phase. Theo was the naive little boy who wanted to be a man, but then at times he'd suddenly become suspicious and defensive and independent for no reason. Gelia had the most character of them all, and she swung around like a weathervane, from hating Crow to loving him to suspecting him to being concerned for his every moment of well-being. GET A GRIP. Aelia's bodyguard was pretty cool, but he was only in the book for a few pages, and again it was tell, not show. He said he hated Crow and everyone accepted it, although he had no reason to and he never really dug into the consequences of that. And the ROMANCE. I don't read books for the romance, but I don't like to see the MC proclaiming on the last page that he's in love with cardboard characters after he's shared maybe fifty words with them. And worse, Cardboard Lady insisted she loved him back! Agh, so cheap and lame. There was no interaction, thus no love. They argued from time to time and that was it.

There, I've fleshed out ten points that I would have loved to see remedied. Please understand, despite its flaws, I did indeed enjoy this book. I would probably read a sequel, if the author chose to write one. Would I recommend this book? Yes, AFTER I have solid proof that the author has unleashed a vicious editor on its pages. Not before. I believe the author has potential, and his world has potential. They just need a little help to fully realize it.