An Act of Faith by C.A. Oliver: An Utterly Boring and Forgetful High Fantasy – Book Review

An Act of Faith by C.A. Oliver is the first book in a British high fantasy series about a refuge of Elves who set out in search of an island that once housed a vast ancient civilisation of their people; a place believed to be their last chance at surviving the brutal war they’ve fought with man for ages. When I originally picked this up it was due entirely to my love affair with Elves. My favourite subspecies of Elves are Dark Elves, but even so, I gravitate towards almost any story that involves these magical beings. A lot of that can be credited to J.R.R. Tolkien, which is what this book tried very hard to be, as well as the Forgotten Realms universe, but ultimately it fell short in an array of ways.

High fantasy is an excellent genre. It’s typically filled with tons of swashbuckling action, morally grey characters that you can’t help but love (or hate vehemently), and gorgeous scenery in one form or another. Another element that most high fantasy tales have is decent pacing and development regardless of whether it’s jam-packed with little details. With An Act of Faith, my attention kept on wandering because the book was too damn tedious. I felt like the narrative was trying to mimic Tolkien’s voice and style rather than draw upon it to create something that was unique and original. It led to bouts of painfully slow progression and lacklustre action sequences.

Another problem that arose was how modular all of the characters were, especially in the beginning of the novel. We get the characters names and a couple of minor details that were intended to set them apart, yet it was challenging to do so when the dialogue is completely emotionless. The monotony of the conversations and interactions between individuals could have merely been one person talking to themselves for the most part. No one had a distinct personality to distinguish from others. The same thing can be said for the world-building.

The world-building facets actually varied quite a bit, which further contributed to the disjointed and jumbled reading atmosphere. In the beginning there were utterly zero descriptions of the weather, the characters’ surroundings, and more. It was mentioned that they were travelling via a ship, but there was little to no adjectives to substantiate that at all. I remember feeling a bit surprised when I read where they were since there weren’t any indications of it. Then later on in the book, it felt like a different person was writing as descriptives and tedious elements started to make their appearance. This clash in prose and writing mechanics continued to wall me out of making a connection to the narrative or any of the characters in any meaningful ways.

Eventually, I dropped the book. I couldn’t keep putting myself through the blender of inconsistencies and leisure progression, especially since there was no return on it. I knew that if I kept on reading, I would have either ended up in the worst reading rut around, or I would begin to dislike high fantasy or Elves, which are things I absolutely adore. It was much easier to stop reading. I wanted to feel more invested in the adventure and I wanted to experience the atmosphere that this journey had to offer because it sounded really cool. But I couldn’t because it pretty much didn’t exist and that sucks.

Since I DNF’d it, no rating.

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3 thoughts on “An Act of Faith by C.A. Oliver: An Utterly Boring and Forgetful High Fantasy – Book Review

  1. Thanks for the warning. So many books… no need to waste time I could spend reading something GOOD.

  2. Holy crap that cover art, dude is like the broodiest of brooding. Sucks this this turned out to be so boring it is always an issue I face with fantasy, in that it is really hard for people to escape tropes or make them interesting, so I just go back and reread stuff I know is good instead of finding new stuff.

    • Right? Sooo broody lol. There are some great original fantasies out there, and they’re all mostly written by POC so I recommend those for you.

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