Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Keepers of Water - R.G. Porter


    2012; 225 pages.  Full Title : Keepers of Water (Guardians of Nature).  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Fantasy; Adventure.  Overall Rating : 5*/10.

    Arieana’s brother, Rydan, has been slain and although it happened a world away, his spirit reaches out to warn her not to seek revenge.  But the murderers weren’t brutish terrans, they were fellow Baileans.  And that simply cannot be allowed to go unpunished.  So it’s off to the deserts of Chile, where Rydan met his end, to do some serious whup-assing.

    Sorien’s parents were archaeologists that were murdered in the same area.  Now one of his colleagues has met the same fate, in the same locale.  Sorien is hardly an Indiana Jones, although he too is an archaeologist.  The three murders obviously have something to do with the dig they were all working on.  And the only way to get to the bottom of the tragedies is to go there, look through their notes for clues, and continue the excavations

    Even if that moves Sorien to the top of the most-likely-to-meet-an-untimely-end list.

What’s To Like...
    There are parallel worlds (Baile and ours) and the Mandarin Chinese symbol for water on the book cover.  Those things always appeal to me.  Ditto for anytime archaeology plays a part in a story.  The world-building of Baile is modest, but adequate for the storyline.  Outside of the magic practiced there, its citizenry is much like ours, for better and for worse.  The Chilean desert is a refreshing change of pace for an adventure setting.

    The main good-guy characters – Sorien, Arieana, Aeryn, and Brooke – are all likeable and interesting.  The baddies are less developed, but at least aren’t all black – there is a redeeming motive for their actions.  They aren’t terribly cunning or resourceful though.

    Besides the standard “get the Ultimate Artifact (‘UA’) and save the world” scenario, there seems to be a more subtle theme here – learning to control one’s emotions.  That’s kewl.

    The ending is unsatisfying; nothing is resolved.  Rydan’s death is un-avenged, the baddies aren’t thwarted, the identity of the head bad guy remains veiled, and nobody knows what the UA does.  These are obviously “to be continued” teasers, but there is no sequel, and nothing in the Amazon blurbs leads me to believe one is in the works.  So Keepers of Water comes off as an introduction to a series that doesn’t exist.

    “I followed the voices.  They seemed so far away and sad, so I thought I would find them and cheer them up.”
    “What voices?” they both asked in unison but for completely different reasons.  She knew Sorien probably thought the child had imaginary friends; Arieana was worried about the others being too close.  Whatever had brought this child out to the middle of nowhere had been powerful, and that worried her.
    “Um. . . the voices that came from beneath the sand.  They sounded so sad.  I wanted to play with them so that they were no longer lonely.”  (loc. 1971)

    “What’s your name?”
    “Ah, you would want to know.  Not that it will do you any good, but it’s An’Drea.”
    “It will.  I will remember you, and you need to remember me.”
    “And why might that be?”
    “Because my face will be the last one you see when I kill you.”  (loc. 2893)

Kindle Details...
    Keepers of Water sells for $3.99 at Amazon.  R.G. Porter has a dozen or so books available for the Kindle, ranging from free to $3.99.

Don’t hide in the darkness.  It’s icky.  (loc. 662)
    Keepers of Water is a promising first draft of a story that screams for Phase 2 of writing a novel : editing, proofing, and beta-reading.

    This is most evident in the typos.  In addition to the fare/fair and rein/reign sort of lapses, the book has one new (to me) and irksome recurring error.  “Senior” is used instead of “Senor”.  So the Spanish speakers say “Senior Jacobs”.  Ouch.  I can’t see any proof- or beta-reader missing that.

    There is too much telling and not enough showing.  We are reminded repeatedly that the Bailean council is not to be trusted, and that Arieana is hesitant to open up to Sorien.  Wouldn't it be stronger to demonstrate these things to the reader, rather than tell them.

    Finally, there are the WTF moments.  The baddies are lurking, hoping for the UA to be unearthed by our heroes.  So why attack a nearby town, which brings ill-advised attention?  OTOH, when several of the townspeople are killed in the attack, does anybody fire off a communication to the Federales, requesting help?  Of course not.

    There’s no sex, booze, or drugs; and I don’t recall any cussing.  There isn’t even any romance, although I get the feeling one's on the horizon.  There is some killing, so this isn’t a cozy.  But it isn’t overly gruesome.  No plot twists jumped out to surprise me.  I think this could be reworked into a dynamite YA novel.

    5 Stars.  Out of 10.  Add 1 star if the sequel is published.  Add 2 stars if a revised version comes out, after the requisite editing.

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