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Reviews Comments: Books 1-3 Skulduggery Pleasant whole series review by Ayries

Taken as a series, Skulduggery Pleasant works better than each book on its own. The first book in particular is very fun, with pretty strong characters, good humour and some hints at more engaging plot to come, but it doesn't quite pack the punch you might expect considering what its parts are- something's... missing.

Then the second one follows up on this with some nice character development (though Stephanie, the protagonist, flounders a little here), an improved plot and a less episodic feel. The third one gets it as close to right as you could hope for in a not altogether serious YA urban fantasy; there's a very interconnected feel to the whole thing, especially considering the ending, and the author's really hit his stride with the characters. There's more dramatic impact, as well, with the series' concept being treated as less of a joke.

The prose in the stories is perfectly serviceable, but at times you can really tell the man used to be a scriptwriter- the action scenes are basically lists, and we temporarily step 'out' of the characters' heads as well. Also, he really, REALLY likes the things. The dialogue is good if a little stagey and 'fake' at times.

There's a lot of hints at some potentially great worldbuilding if the current style continues over the next six books. Everything's been consistent so far, and the 'clues' for the backstory sound like something genuinely interesting.

Overall, they aren't perfect, but they're a lot of fun and they're getting better every time. As kids' books they aren't patronising to their reader, which is nice. Also, it's always great to see a book likely to interest boys with such a strong and non-stereotypical girl as the identification charater. Definitely worth a look, either for yourself or any kids you might want to get something for, if you're a fan of more lighthearted fantasy.

Be warned, though, for younger kids there may be a couple of slightly... creepy things in it. Not really a bad thing, though, is it? Nightmares are good for the soul.


  • Po8
  • 23rd Feb 10
"Everything's been consistent so far." Really? This series is fun to read, but it has more Fridge Logic than a nitrogen-cooled supercomputer. Just to pick some random examples (spoilers):
  • In the first book
    • Neither the great "detective" Skullduggery Pleasant nor anyone else figures out that the Book of Names is a target until the very, very end. Come on, this wasn't hard.
    • Apparently the advent of a potentially world-destroying war with a powerful sorcerer isn't enough to get the Council to open the book just this once and look up his true name.
  • In the second book Sanguine is repeatedly defeated, then left to escape. Just kill him already! This continues into the third book as well.
  • In the third book
    • What was with the Diablerie's use of the Sea Hag as a minion? Like they didn't have 10000 simpler ways they could have taken a defenseless teenager off a bridge? Seems like an awful lot of trouble.
    • If the Black Crystals kill The Faceless Ones on contact, but are harmless to those of Ancient blood, which did the ancients build the fancy Staff? Why didn't they just go down and mine black crystals, which are apparently in abundance, and throw them at The Faceless Ones?
  • Ayries
  • 25th Mar 10
Those aren't so much literally parts that are incosistent as they are things that you think defy common sense, though, surely? I meant more gaping plot holes, and specifically for the 'world' aspect, more than the plot.

Maybe I just have a higher suspension of disbelief than you, I don't know; it is a fantasy book for older kids, and while that doesn't exactly excuse it from making sense, it does tend to change an author's priorities somewhat.
  • veni
  • 6th Oct 10
There sure are a lot of things hinted at you might figure out much earlier than the characters themselves, and thatīs fine because, as stated, itīs a childrenīs book series (one of the few you can really get attatched to, even if youīre much to old for it). Also, come on, itīs kind of nice to already know it before and feel all smart and clever.

Also notably, the characters, while being flawed and making a whole lot of mistakes as the story goes on, are altogether really good role models. Well, your mileage might want to vary a little bit on that, but iīd like to see those characters teach my kid confidence, independence, loyalty, caring and, most of all, sarkasm.
  • MangaManiac
  • 5th Feb 11
The first book probably works better as a standalone. It's great on it's own, but when put up with the rest of the series, it seems sort of unfitting.

Of course, first books of any series tend to be more standalone than the rest of them. They've got to introduce everyone and generate interest, which is easier if it doesn't feel like half the story's missing.
  • 5th Feb 11
The books are all horribly written.
  • MangaManiac
  • 19th Feb 11
What makes you say that?
  • Ninjat126
  • 3rd Sep 11
  • They don't open the Book of Names because power corrupts. Come on, the power to control everyone in the world? Not too many people would refuse that if it was staring them in the face.

  • The heroes aren't always a fan of "kill everything at every possibly opportunity". Plus, Sanguine can move through walls to escape, is immune to binding spells and magic blocking handcuffs, and can drag people into the ground and leave them there if someone tries to grab him. Even after sustaining some fairly bad injuries, he still just runs off to fight another day.

  • The Sea Hag was completely unexpected on the part of the heroes. Aside from that, it is a way that you can sweep a defenceless Teleporter off a bridge and it worked quite well.

  • The Faceless Ones are Lovecraftian cosmic horrors that normal magic is useless against. I believe the Ancients stole the black crystal from them in the first place. That means they probably didn't know about the crystals in the cavern, or would rather steal from the Faceless Ones than fight the cave-monsters. Even if they did have millions of black crystals and a slingshot, they would have done nothing since the Faceless Ones were perfectly fine with touching them and in fact kept their own. The Scepter directed the power of the crystal, which (focussed with the Ancients' desire for freedom) was enough to kill a god.
  • pyr0h1tman8
  • 5th Oct 11

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