#SPFBO The Anointed (Red Proxy #3) by Keith Ward


The AnointedThe Anointed is the third finalist I’ve read as part of the SPFBO and I’ve been struggling to write this review due to mixed feelings and a general inability to really pin down why this one didn’t work out better for me.

I must admit that I was puzzled when I saw that this was book No.3 set in this world and I wonder if some of the issues I experienced might have been things strengthened by reading the earlier books – that being said this can apparently be read as a standalone.  Anyway, not to put the cart before the horse.

As the book starts we make the introduction of a family who are on the brink of a coming of age ceremony.  Ketram and Danak are ranchers, they raise and train dragons and they’re prosperous and well respected.  They have three children, triplets, although Danak is not the biological mother,  Their biological mother was murdered shortly after they were born and the three babies were stolen to be used as proxies (more of that later).  That the three were recovered is almost a miracle in itself but one of the children, Xinlas, died before his rescue but was somehow returned to life.  Having been raised with this story Xinlas has developed something of a superiority complex believing himself a future hero in the making.  The only thing he worries about is his lifespan and he’ll find out how many years he has to work on his own legend at the coming of age ceremony.  Unfortunately things don’t go well for Xinlas and he storms off, taking one of the dragons and trying to cool off which is when he spots a small village (Peacewood) that literally appears and disappears within the blink of an eye.  This he believes is the start of his adventure and he’s absolutely determined to find out more.

Meanwhile, the village in question, contains a few hundred people they’ve lived within the protection of a magical boundary for as long as they can remember – remaining unseen by the rest of the world.  The trees and the villagers of Peacewood seem to have an almost symbiotic relationship.  They’re a gentle people, with no frivolous extravagances, simply living their lives and with no desire to explore the outside world.  Except one young girl, Greengrass, who really does want to travel and is determined to break out.  In all this the key thing to the village is the trees, the wood from these trees floats and the villagers in fact craft both small and large boats to use on their lake.  If word of these boats and ships reaches certain people in the outside world it will be like an invitation to go a warring!  Especially if you have a crazy-arsed king who is hell bent not only on using the proxy system enough times to make him immortal but also using that extra time to dominate the rest of the world.

So, Ward introduces us to a very different world here with some interesting concepts.  Imagine a world where people cannot swim and wood and other substances cannot float on water.  It kind of puts a hamper on world domination – no way to sail your armies to distant shores to claim them as your own.  Of course there are dragons in this world which does make flying possible, but even so, you’d need a whole lot of beasties to transport an army and on top of that they would struggle to make it across the seas. Now also imagine a world where people are given a sort of prediction, if you like, at birth, that tells them their expected lifespan, on top of this it’s possible to transfer one person’s lifespan to somebody else (this is the proxy system and the person transferring their life obviously dies in the process), thereby extending the recipient’s lifespan  – it really doesn’t bode well does it and the possibilities for corruption are vast.

Now, on the one hand I really think these are interesting ideas but on the other they’re not explored well enough for me to enjoy reading about them which is a bit frustrating. The world building feels sort of flimsy.  Personally, once I start having questions that remain unanswered it almost becomes like a vicious circle and I can’t deny that it distracts me somewhat.  That being said it’s possible that this book is intended for a younger audience, it has a coming of age, chosen one feel and I appreciate that deeper world building sometimes takes a back seat.

Unfortunately I also didn’t really connect with the characters.  Xinlas in particular came across as anything but a hero.  He instead came across as incredibly spoilt, vain and rather annoying.  Privileged and indulged he couldn’t accept, when he finally met a girl  that he liked, and she didn’t return his affection and he behaved very badly.  His story arc just didn’t make sense from that point on – or more to the point his  change of character.

This all sounds incredibly negative which is something that I really didn’t intend.  Basically, the Anointed didn’t work out for me but that could be because it’s aimed at a younger audience and perhaps I would have had a stronger feel for the world if I’d read the previous books in the series.

As it is I’d rate this at just over 2.5 out of 5 on Goodreads which equates to 5.5 out of 10 for the competition.

My thanks to the author for a copy of the book.  The above is my own opinion.



12 Responses to “#SPFBO The Anointed (Red Proxy #3) by Keith Ward”

  1. Tammy

    Sorry this didn’t work out. And that is odd that a writer would submit a book #3 to the competition! I don’t know what the rules are but just adding “book 3” to the title immediately puts me off reading it.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, apparently it can be read as a standalone but I can’t help wondering if some of my niggles might have been answered if I wasn’t jumping in at this point.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Not being able to connect to the characters is the killer for me. It’s hard for me to connect to anything else when that happens 😦

    • @lynnsbooks

      The main character is basically unlikable and his own character does change, dramatically, but in an unbelievably quick turnaround that just didn’t read well for me. Also, I just had so many niggles. There’s a lot of interesting ideas but I believe that they have to be written in a way that the reader feels they become plausible and that’s not the case in this – for me anyway. I found I had lots of questions and no answers which just ultimately really annoys me. I used to find this a lot with YA, particularly of the dystopian kind, where you’re given a scenario, told this is how it is and just supposed to run with it.
      Lynn 😀

  3. waytoofantasy

    Huh. It sound alike an interesting concept though. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. bkfrgr

    Hmmm, a shame this was a let down. Bad characters man, it’s a killer.
    Kind of like that cover art though … darn it! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I love that cover art too. It has a great sense of movement.
      Perhaps the book will well for a younger audience but it just didn’t work well for me.
      Lynn 😀

  5. #SPFBO – Finalists No.6 and No.7 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] my review can be found here .  My reviews for Symphony of the Wind and The Anointed are here and here.  My reviews for Sowing and Aching God will follow very soon.  The purpose of this post is to […]

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    […] The Anointed by Keith Ward (one of the SPFBO finalists) […]

  7. Best of the Best list : 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Anointed by Keith Ward (one of the SPFBO finalists) […]

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