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Pardon me, but there’s a hole in your plot

Image: Zdenek Sasek

Trawling through the Kindle Unlimited novels, I find one I like. Two powerful sorcerers—husband and wife—save the world, but end up dying as a result, leaving their twelve-year-old son an orphan. The boy is taken in by a tribe high up in the mountains and learns to survive in the hostile, icy environment. (I know, it sounds ordinary here, but bear with me, I’m summarising the plot. The start was promising.)

Naturally, with two such powerful parents, the boy’s a prodigy. Oh, and did I mention, if the bad guys knew he was alive they would not be happy, as his parents destroyed their efforts to take over the world? As a result, he hides the fact that he’s a sorcerer, even though he’s been well taught and is already as powerful as his parents. Ten years later the boy has grown up, learned how to survive in the harsh wintry environment. He is asked to take a bunch of freed prisoners across the mountains to safety.

The prisoners, who have all been captured in the last six months, have one thing in common. Every one of them had been travelling to the kid’s former hometown to train under the two famed sorcerers—his parents.

Wait! What? The parents have been dead ten years. Let me reread that section and see if I got that right. These people have all been captured recently.

I reread the section. No. Definitely dead ten years. And the kid needs those years to become familiar enough with the deadly environment to be able to take them across the mountains safely.

Wait. I get it. It’s one of those books where the reader knows more than the characters. The former prisoners don’t realise the parents are dead. Or maybe someone is impersonating them. Okay. I think it’s it bit too obvious and the characters should have picked up on it, but I’ll wait and see.

Two pages on the group talks about fight that saved the world—which they all know about, and they know the sorcerers involved were the ones they were supposed to be training with. They also know the parents are dead.

But … but, these people were captured in the last six months. The last one had been in the prison only five days. They all had families willing to support them and send them to mage training.

It never even crossed the orphan’s mind to query it, either. They were his parents, and they’d been dead ten years and he didn’t even ask, “Hey, you know they’ve been dead ten years so why are you going to them for training now?”

Hmmm.  Spoils the book a bit for me, but I’ll keep reading. Maybe it will work out.

But it didn’t. It was just a plot hole right through the whole book. And the silly thing was, except for a minor sub-plot about an arranged marriage, there was no reason I could see for them to be going to those sorcerers in the first place. They could have gone to anyone who could teach magic.

That arranged marriage, by the way, had been arranged between the orphaned son back when he was an unorphaned two-year-old and one of the prisoners. The boy disappeared for ten years, the parents were demonstrably dead, and yet the parents still sent the girl off to marry him.

No. I don’t buy that. I wouldn’t send my precious daughter off to a strange town to marry someone who disappeared ten years ago. And what’s this correspondence with the parents? It had to have been ten years ago, as well. After all, they’re dead, and everyone knows it.

I kept expecting the parents to reappear, but they didn’t and except for the fact that the travellers got kidnapped going to their house, they never came into it again.

It felt to me like a story where the author had started one story and as the story was written it changed, as stories do, but the author refused to deviate from his original plot line. Or maybe he didn’t give himself time away from the work. A plot hole that big would have been quite noticeable six months away from the story, or if a beta reader read it.

The fixes would have been quite simple. Like send the former prisoners to some other sorcerer for training. Change the romance sub-plot a little. The kid would still have to avoid showing his powers even as he uses them to get across the mountain—which is what the story was about. Sadly, this story didn’t get that time, and I only read to the end of the story because, as I said, I was waiting for the twist that would explain the plot hole.

6 replies on “Pardon me, but there’s a hole in your plot”

Oooohhhh, that’s the kind of thing that really just keeps irking you. I feel like I would just poke at the aggravated, befuddled “seriously?! the author seriously didn’t notice this?!” feeling for weeks, like poking at a sore tooth. Has anyone commented about it on the KU reviews?

So I started the book you are referencing. I got to the point about the arranged marriage and stopped because it didn’t make any sense. There were some other plot holes before that. But even my imagination couldn’t fix it. I decided to read one of my go-to books instead.

I confess there were a couple of other things annoying me, too, but after that big hole the other annoyances faded away (forgotten). I really did expect a twist, as I thought no one would deliberately miss something like this.

That does sound hard to overlook and ought to have been noticed by someone (other than you the reader, Karen!) I hope that your next read will have less in common with Swiss cheese.

I read an old favourite after that. A whole series, in fact. Four books so far.

It’s so easy to miss obvious holes in a story. It’s one advantage trad-pubbed authors have over self-pubbed authors. Usually (although not always), by the time the story has passed by the agent, the editor, they story editor and the copywriter most of the glaring holes are gone.

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