No Time For Kings
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Written by: Thomas Hank
Published by: Infinity Publishing
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I was offered the chance to review “No Time For Kings,” by Thomas Hank, by my coworker and, after my reasonably pleasant experience with “The Patriot Act,” I decided to trust their judgment and do the review. The read, as it turned out, was much to my disappointment.
“No Time For Kings,” is a story chronicling the friendship of Eric Tilghman and Amelia Lasker (Melee) from childhood straight into adulthood, via a series of adventures. The first-person prose is narrated by Eric, and tells how he first met young Melee and how she changed his life.
Whether it was standing up to the school bully, or starting a club to change the community or introducing him to people he would otherwise never have spoken to, Melee always kept things interesting for Eric, always challenged his views and the view of others around her. With her help, Eric faces some of the most difficult times of his life and overcomes them, because she is never one to allow him to give up or to make excuses.
But as they grow older, Eric’s feelings for Melee, as well as his view of the world, change, and the two inevitably drift apart. Even though, their paths cross repeatedly, the rift between them continues to grow the older they get. Can Eric reconcile his troubled heart to find what has been living next door to him all of his life or will he be lost in a torrent of his own making?
My initial reaction to the novel was confusion laced with boredom. While the character of Melee, was interesting and definitely atypical, the events surrounding her were written in a sort of quick-flash style that was off-putting. There was no clear division between the jumps in time and, in this case, the first person narrative was a hindrance to the prose, which was actually quite well written.
Eric was, at times, an unlikable character and utterly ignorant the rest of the times. “What do you mean?” and “I don’t understand?” seemed to be the only things he was capable of saying while talking to Melee. It made sense at first, but I can’t imagine Eric and Melee being friends for so long without him picking up on some of her more eccentric sayings and their meanings.
The narration was clearly a flashback, and while Eric seemed contrite and understanding as a young boy, the older he became the more closed off and jaded he became, and the narration followed suit. Since it was written as a flashback, the tone of the narrator should have remained neutral or should have stayed constant, as told from the view of someone looking back on his past; the narrator seemed lost in the moment of Eric’s varying personalities.
My main problem with the story, however, wasn’t the confusing flashback narrative, the annoying protagonist or every character’s penchant for forgetting to use the pronoun ‘I’ while speaking. My main problem was the plot. I felt I was being led somewhere, only to end up somewhere else, in a place I did not want to be, while being told, “It’s just as good.” There was no payoff to all the apparent build up in the story. While I like bold chances, and the ending was bold in that it wasn’t what I’d expected, it fell flat behind its not-so-veiled message and cautionary advice. The intent, I’m sure was to make the reader think, but all it did, was frustrate me. I felt the story could have been salvaged by a more traditional ending.
Ultimately, while the book had some interesting conversations and points of view, it wasn’t what I would call a must read. It wasn’t bad to pass time; there were a couple of tear-jerking moments—which were done simply, yet powerfully—but the book is definitely not something that I would recommend or would purchase. There was nothing overtly wrong with the story, the prose, or the characters, it was something in the combination of the three that fell flat, leaving the story somewhere between mildly entertaining and completely uninteresting.
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