I picked up this book because I saw it on Instagram, loved the cover, and the caption said “If you like the Dragon Age video game series, you’ll love this book!” Well, I love the Dragon Age series by Bioware, but this was not that at all. It has elves just like Dragon Age, but the similarities end there. And they don’t even really feel like elves… But I’m getting ahead of myself. “No One’s Chosen” follows along as four very different elven women, a queen of sorts, a mercenary assassin (she’s a drow if you are familiar with the classic dungeons and dragons version of the dark skinned elves), a warrior, and a street rat orphan (she’s not as suave as Aladdin though), as they go about their lives in a mythical land where they are plagued by the horse people, centaurs and satyrs basically. But these villains only make an appearance for a few of the women, the rest of the time the elves do a very good job brutalizing their own kind.
Now, before I get into the meat of the review, I will start by saying that if profanity, violence, and sexual content including rape, bother you at all, then skip this book. The author has a tendency to treat language, violence, and even rape a bit casually. Language and sex is treated EXTREMELY casually, actually. I generally don’t care if swear words or sex are used in any kind of media, but they should be used with a purpose otherwise it comes off as just something to include for shock value. Especially when the swear words used are more of the “hardcore” variety, you know, those that start with “c” and automatically make you cringe? Fitzgerald uses THOSE words a lot, so fair warning.
There is a lot going on in this first book, almost too much as the story of these four different women gets muddled as they aren’t generally connected. Outside of two of the main characters gravitating in a bit of the same circle, the other two don’t encounter the others or even have to contend with the same sorts of issues. If this book had just focused on the drow and the queen, the two whose stories are the most interconnected, it would have read a great deal smoother and been easier to follow. While the warrior and the orphan’s stories weren’t uninteresting per-se, they also didn’t feel connected and so I struggled to see what value their experiences brought other than to perhaps do a built of world building. But there’s just so much fat in this book, whole chapters worth, where nothing really happens to move the story along and only serves to slow down whatever momentum was built with the last character. It’s a good practice in theory, have one characters chapter end on a cliff hanger so you want to keep reading the next to hurry up and get back to the meat of things, but that tactic is negated when you have two to three chapters of other characters in-between. Then it just becomes cumbersome.
Ultimately, that was my biggest issue. This story could have really benefited from a critique partner or editor going through it first and highlighting the unnecessary parts, the info dumps, the parts that are confusing and slow the reader down, or just not a good idea to include (I won’t spoil anything, but the ending of the book is awful because of that, it includes something that makes you hate a character and that’s where the book ends! Not a good Idea in my opinion), and then cutting those out to make for a cleaner story. The author could have also benefited from some editing with the dialogue as the character tones are not consistent and then tend to blend together where suddenly some of the warriors are speaking very, very proper when they hadn’t before, and same with the orphan… It just clashes with who these characters are supposed to be and what they should speak like because of that.
There is a good idea in there with characters that have potential for real growth, but it gets so lost that it prevented me from ever establishing an emotional connection with any of the characters and, therefore, because this first book was so long and I don’t feel like much was resolved, I don’t care to continue with the series. Also, I am a fan of changing the tropes around what you think elves should or should not be, but nothing about these elves felt like they were creatures of fantasy. They just felt like people, people with a loose sense of monogamy and sexuality, but people all the same. Some of them perform magic like the queen character, but then that’s just a mage really, not an elf mage. I’d have liked to encounter more of what made the elves unique and less of the orgies.
I wanted to like this book because I like fantasy and elves in particular (I mean, they are co-stars in my own fantasy series as well). But there was too much in the way for me to really get into this story, let alone the series. But because the potential is there for a compelling story, I’d give it 2.5 – 3 stars as is. If the author has later editions of this story where some things are cleaned up a bit, I may return and continue on in the world that Fitzgerald has created.