Review: Shards Book Two

Shards Book Two

By Peter Prellwitz

Two years have passed, and sixteen-year-old Abigail Wyeth is a soldier in the Resistance, fighting against a despotic global government. She plans out raids and uses her abilities to hurt her enemies to the greatest of her ability. Her skills in programming far outstep anyone else in the Resistance, making her invaluable. After a particularly difficult mission, she and a friend are given leave. They vacation in Resistance-friendly Phoenix.

And then everything goes wrong. They’re caught by the enemy. Abigail is held within a fortified compound. And then, she begins to shard. All her past lives begin compounding on one another, and she looses herself in all the many different personas she’s been forced to become. To survive, she must not only pull herself together, finding the various pieces of her soul, but also physically escape from a military base bent on keeping her captive.

Many of the weaknesses of Book One vanish in this novel. Where Book One lacked action, this volume begins with an action sequence and rarely lets up. Where Book One had entire chapters devoted to exposition, any exposition needed here is wrapped into the running narrative. The only downsides that remain are another horrible cover and a text replete with typos. If you can look past those elements, you’re in for a real treat.

The writing is crisp. The characters continue to pop. The world continues to grow and intrigue. Prellwitz also expands on his characters’ spirituality, letting Abigail’s Christianity in particular out a little more than in the first book. She asks questions that cause the reader to wrestle; did her past personas have souls of their own? If not, is she responsible for their sins?

The plot moves at a near-dizzying pace with a few moments for the reader to catch his or her breath.

There are some new downsides to the writing, though. The bulk of the novel takes up a single episode within the storyline. Twenty pages from the end, everything wraps up with a few questions left open for the author to tackle with more ferocity (presumably) in the last two books of the series. The reader gets some nice resolution, and then with ten pages left, Prellwitz rips everything open, leading to a cliffhanger ending. I would have been content finishing the book before the lead-in to the cliffhanger, and opened the next book with the sudden action. Perhaps this fits better into a larger scheme, or the book publisher wanted a cliffhanger ending. I do not know the reason for this kind of writing, but I found the sudden action at the end to be tacked-on, plot wise.

Now, the action is well-written, and it certainly fits within the context. The problem I have is it feels as if the writer said to himself, “I need to end this with a good hook to bring everyone back to book three. What’s the best way to do that? Oh! A cliffhanger!” I would have come back, based on the strength of the world alone. No tacked-on action-based ending was needed!

I’ll still recommend the book, but understand that the last little chapter is really more of a preview of book three!

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6 thoughts on “Review: Shards Book Two

  1. I agree. I would have read the rest of the series no matter of the ending. I don’t agree that the coverart is bad though. Yes, the typos drive me nuts too.
    Personally, I have suggested Shards Book One to someone at my Lutheran Church. He hasn’t finished it yet.

  2. Greetings!
    Thank you for the review. While I don’t normally reply to reviews – I feel reviews are best not interrupted by the authors – I did want to address your question about the cliff-hanger ending. (There is a similar one in Book Three, though the fourth and final book ties everything up.)

    The reasons for the cliff-hanger are two-fold: 1.) SHARDS was written as a single, 297,000 word novel, and; 2.) I wrote it for myself, never intending to publish it.

    When I was inspired to write SHARDS back at the end of 1995, I simply sat down the next day and started writing. It took just over a year to write SHARDS, and being something of a lover of cliff-hangers, I incorporated them into my “books” two and three. You’ll notice that many of my chapters also have minor cliff-hangers in them; the idea being to draw the reader (me) into reading “just one more chapter”. Since the novel was originally complete in a massive, unpublished tome, the book-ending cliff-hangers easily picked up by simply turning the page to the next book. (I was deep into Book Three when I first noticed my penchant toward writing the books as nine chapters of roughly 8,000 words a chapter.)

    The novel ended up getting published only because I was on CompuServe’s Writers Forum and decided to post the novel, one chapter at a time, for critiquing purposes. (Just because I was writing the novel for myself didn’t mean I didn’t want it to be the best it could be.) The encouragement I received on the private forum was such that I pursued publication. The first submission, as one novel of nearly 300,000 words, was a rookie mistake and was rejected. By the time of the rejection, my novel HORIZONS – which I’d written after SHARDS – had won the Draco Award and was published. The publisher asked for other novels I might have and I submitted SHARDS; only as four books this time.

    And there you have it; the reason for the cliff-hangers. Of all my novels, Books Two and Three are the only books that don’t tie up neatly at the end. That’s because, taken as a whole, they are only the middle of the long novel that’s called SHARDS, which DOES have an ending.

    I hope you don’t mind my intruding on your blog to answer this question. Take care and God bless.

    Pete Prellwitz
    Author: SHARDS

    1. I’ve seen a few other books like that that were divided — I suppose the most famous, if I remember correctly, is Lord of the Rings. I have little problem with cliffhangers — I’ve run more than one role play session where I was delighted to hear the “No!” of the players as they realized I was ending the session in such a manner. I guess it just surprised me after the resolution of Shards I that Shards II would have a cliffhanger, as well as the sudden nature of it.

      I still NEED to get books III and IV of Shards, though. I finally have an eReader and looked — and found that I could not get Shards for my Nook. Alas. It means I’ll have to wait just a little longer — or borrow from a friend!

      I do have one question: You mention you sat down and wrote for yourself. Did you have a plotted story, or did you simply select a character or situation and start writing, letting the story discover itself? I’m always fascinated by the different approaches authors take. I’ve found that I vary widely in the how of my own writing between planned out or simple discovery.

      Thanks for dropping by here and explaining. This is in no way an intrusion! Feel free to stop by whenever you’d like.

      1. Greetings!

        Your question is one I think every author is asked many times. That, along with, “Where do you get your ideas?” And, like there’s a different cure for hiccups for everyone, there’s a different answer for each author. Some authors have a different answer for different works.

        I am what you’d call a “seat of the pants” writer. I’d had a snippet of an image in a dream the night before and woke up with the snippet firmly in my mind. I started writing that morning and went at it pretty much not stop from December 24th, 1995 until the first week or so of January, 1997, when I finished.

        Early on I worked out an outline as to how the story would go, but my characters soon pulled me away from it and I simply wrote what I “saw”. Most times I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen on the next page and had to write until the next page to find out.

        I had a plan, however, as for how SHARDS would unfold, even if I had no idea of the path it would take. I devoted Book One to establishing the main character and her VERY unusual circumstances. You’d commented that Book One had a lot of exposition and not a lot of action, and you’re right; I devoted the vast majority of Book One to making the reader care for the main character. But to me it was only one-quarter of the novel, so I didn’t feel I’d spent too much time on it. (Not for my tastes, at least. And I was only writing it for myself. That’s why the books don’t have titles; I never thought of them as separate and never thought up titles.) And even then I had ideas for other novels in that universe, so I spent time to create that universe. When Book One was published, I had the joy of discovering from reviews and sales that many people enjoyed my choice of approach. Others, not so much. *heh* Building a thicker skin is always a requirement for creators of published work, and the only way to do that is get it pricked. A painful experience, but one that ultimately helps the creative process for future work. (And having one’s ego pricked is almost always a good thing.)

        Oh, one more tidbit about the cliff-hangers: I know how much people hate to be left dangling (too long), and so did my publisher. When SHARDS went to press in 2005, there were only two months between each book’s release date, so only six months for the entire novel to see press. And to this day, when I sell copies of SHARDS at conventions, I always warn the reader about it. In fact, like you, I use Lord Of The Rings as example, saying Book One is like the Hobbit; you can read it and stop. But once you start Book Two, it’s like Fellowship of the Ring in that you’re committed to all three books.

        Pete Prellwitz
        Author

      2. I’ve visited your site and I do like your rather expansive universe; again, I need to pick up more of the books. Are there any chances of an omnibus at any point?

        Thanks for sharing your process! I do appreciate it.

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