Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Fall of House Nemeni - M.D. Kenning

   2012; 222 pages.  Full Title : The Fall of House Nemeni (Allmother’s Fire).  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Science Fiction (sez I); ClockPunk (sez the author).  Overall Rating : 4*/10.

    Fallen, fallen, fallen is the great house Nemeni.  Domin, the head of this powerful family, and his wife, Vinessi, are gone.  Domin’s brother, Genissi, has fled for his life, taking Domin’s three children to safety with him.

    But that was ten years ago.  The children are now grown.  Their assumed identities have held.  And revenge still smolders in their hearts.

What’s To Like...
    The world-building is innovative – a bunch of islands floating in the air (see book cover) between two suns – One Above, One Below.   The islands are inhabited; and you can travel by airships from one to another without any breathing difficulties.  This solar system setup boggles my scientific mind, but let’s not get too hung up on the astrophysics of it.  After all, this is fantasy.

    All of the characters are well-developed.  The book starts out with lots of action – Domin fleeing for his life.  There is an interesting interplay of Magic (“Clockwork Grand Laws”) versus Religion ("Cogs of the Universe”).  Spells versus prayers.  M.D. Kenning presents them on equal terms, which I like.  The ending doesn’t tie up all the threads, but it does logically set up the next book in the series.

    Alas, there are some serious issues with TFoHN, starting with the typos.  Theirs/There’s; Lead/Led (the two tenses are not spelled the same); Than/Then; plus dozens more.  I normally don’t comment on typos because self-published authors can rarely afford professional proofreaders.  But their frequency here really detracts from the story.

    Then there are the run-on sentences.  These are by nature clunky, but the author seems averse to using commas.  This makes the run-ons almost unfathomable unless you read them multiple times.  One example : Even the food that was now sitting warmly in Genissi’s belly as he reclined on a velvet laden couch and watched the kids talk excitedly together had been delivered to their door that lead inside the tavern (not the one that lead to the door in the alley) by one of the inn’s maids and she did not see who received the meal later.  Wow.  There are lots more like that.

    Finally, there is too much Telling, and not enough Showing.  There are pages upon pages devoted to what’s running through the various characters’ minds.  It would have been much stronger to convey these thoughts via actions in the storyline.

    Three words.
    These were the bywords of the Nemeni family, and three words could not sum up Genissi any less in most people’s eyes.
    Those were much more accurate descriptors of the laughing stock of the Nemeni family.  (loc. 463)

    Sivana of course had no way to know for sure exactly how much time had passed.  The rotten smell of her own sick being on her clothes however invited the possibility she was not in a spiritual afterlife.  Not once in the teachings or songs did she remember anything about vomit existing in the Sun Below or in the arms of the Allmother.  (loc. 3722)

Kindle Details...
    The Fall Of House Nemeni sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  This is reportedly Book 1 of a trilogy.  M.D. Kenning has one other book available for the Kindle – Mandatory Paradise – also for $2.99.  I think the latter is unrelated to the Nemeni storyline.

“Are you touched by the Sun Below?” (loc. 1784)
    For me, The Fall of House Nemeni comes off as a novel-worthy concept, but still in rough-draft form.  That’s unfortunate because, although the basic plotline grabbed my interest, the project is incomplete.

    The writing needs to be polished up (add commas, break up the long sentences).  A good editor/proofreader needs to be utilized (a writer doing this himself just doesn’t work).  Finally, the first-draft needs some beta-readers.  Mom and Aunt Martha won’t cut it – it needs people who will tell you what is confusing, clunky, and/or just plain boring.  And every five minutes, the phrase “Show!  Don’t Tell!” should be mentally chanted.

    Admittedly, polishing, proofing, and rewriting are not as fun as creating the first draft, but they’re just as vital.  This will be a great book - and a great series - once those steps are taken.  4 Stars.  For now.

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