The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Cadet of TildorGoodreads: The Cadet of Tildor
Source: ARC

Summary:  Commander Korish Savoy is irate when he is called from his important duties at the front lines to teach teenagers how to fight at the royal Academy.  Cadet Renee de Winter is elated at her chance to meet the hero she has only read about.  The two become much closer than either of them would have expected when Savoy is kidnapped to fight in the underground death matches, and Renee appoints herself his rescuer, even if it means her expulsion from the Academy.

ReviewThe Cadet of Tildor has a nearly perfect fantasy set-up.  Renee de Winter is a student at the prestigious royal Academy where she is training to be a Servant of the Crown.  As the only girl left in the program, she must work hard to prove she is as invaluable as asset to the king as the boys.  In short, it has a lot in common with Tamora Pierce’s wildly successful Song of the Lioness quartet (including more minor details such as mages, an unloving father, etc.)  Lidell, however, strives to make her world a little darker than Pierce’s by introducing a flourishing black market for drugs and illegal gladiatorial games.  The Cadet of Tildor is both fantastic and gritty.

Unfortunately, the quality of Lidell’s writing does not match the quality of her plot, and the problems range from basic sentence structure to the construction of the novel as a whole.  I do not wish to complain too much about the sentences and passages that were bizarrely worded and at times contradictory because I did read an ARC; I hope most of these issues will be fixed in the final version.  But still, I was very surprised to see running towards a noise called a “retreat” and to read Savoy telling Renee that she had no skill but could probably beat up most of the other bodyguards in the room.  What?  These things happened a lot, even for an ARC.

On the novel level, I simply found it difficult to care about the characters or the events.  In many cases, the reader is left to take Lidell’s word that certain things are so—that Savoy is basically the most amazing fighter to have ever lived, for instance—because they are not clearly shown through the characters’ actions.  Savoy is good, of course, but the fact that he is the best is conveyed mostly through other characters’ words.

As to their words, the dialogue in this book is rather stilted.  Lidell is going for formal=medieval, I think, and cuts out a lot of contractions.  Getting past how strange everyone sounds was one of the first problems I faced, and something I never fully achieved.

My ultimate impression towards The Cadet of Tildor was just a strong feeling of being underwhelmed.  I love fantasy.  I loved the premise Lidell offers.  Yet nothing here clicked for me.  At page 12, I noted that I was ready to throw the book aside, and I continued reading mainly because I had no other book with me at the time.  The writing is awkward, the characters are not either interesting or likeable, and Tamora Pierce already wrote this type of book, but better.  Disappointing.

Publication Date: January 10, 2013

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