Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Journey Begins - Lawrence Sylou-Creutz Ojermark

    2012; 266 pages.  Book #1 of the trilogy “The Winds of Moira”.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Fantasy Quest.  Overall Rating : 4½*/10.

    Analecta may be young, but she is “the Select”, the “Delectes”, and as such, has been charged with a sacred (bordering on suicidal) mission.  Allodial and his band are also on a sacred quest.  At least until the shipwreck, after which it is Allodial’s 1-man expedition.  When they meet (and let’s face it, they will meet), shall it be as friends, allies, and/or lovers?  Or will it be as foes trying to kill each other?

    Perhaps only the Winds of Moira can say.

What’s To Like...
    The pair of simultaneous quests is an innovative plot device, even if it is obvious that Analecta’s takes precedence.  There is a magik system, but it doesn’t overwhelm the story itself.  Lawrence Sylou-Creutz Ojermark weaves some snippets of poetry woven into the chapters, which I found to be kewl.

    The fantasy world itself is developed nicely, with its deserts, mountains, caves, towns, forests, and coastlines.  The fantastical creatures are somewhat limited – gnomes and xhosas – but the latter come in several shades and sizes, and are quite fascinating (see book cover above).

    Unfortunately, the storytelling is weak.  For starters, there is very little action for the first 2/3 of the book.  Allodial plods through the desert, Analecta plods through the mountains; but since each is traveling alone, there is almost zero dialogue.  This means that descriptions abound, but a lot of them seem unnecessary.  For instance, we spend way too much time with Analecta as she climbs down a mountainside.

    The Prologue is baffling and has zero relevance.  Ditto for a letter from Analecta’s father.  The role of religion in the tale is also poorly defined.  Allusions are made to a god called Adonai, and Analecta’s dad was a Roman Catholic-type priest who had to leave his order when he got married.  But neither has any effect on the storyline.  Perhaps this gets sorted out in the other books of the trilogy, but here it just takes up space.

    The Xhosa are similarly vague.  On one hand, they’re powerful and apparently omniscient (“Ask me anything…”).  On the other hand, a teenage girl with a couple daggers can defeat and kill one of them singlehandedly, and its partner apparently sees no reason to avenge the slaying.

    Finally, there are the WTF’s.  Allodial is shipwrecked and washed up on an uninhabited seashore.  He can either cross the broiling, Saharan desert, or else make his way along the coast until he finds a settlement.  Yep, guess which way he chooses.  Analecta can ask the Xhosa anything she wants, but opts for a most mundane question.

    “You’re implying that you understand concepts such as truth and honor, but what would a beast know of such things?” Analecta challenged, strength seeping into her voice.
    “What would people know!  You think religion, wars, death, and destruction are what make you great?  You suck the resources from these very lands.  You kill that which we feed upon.  All for noble ideals?  No.  You do this for yourselves, out of greed, malice, ignorance, and hate.  Don’t ask me of honor and truth, when you know not of what you speak,” the xhosa spat back, its intelligent green eyes glaring at her.  (loc. 1177)

    A strange calm came over her.  So this was it.  This was the end of life.  It was nothing more than an illogical ride through various emotional trips, spawned by one’s experiences.  Oddly she felt let down in her final hour.  (loc. 2554)

Kindle Details...
    A Journey Begins sells for $0.99 at Amazon.  The other two books of this trilogy are available for $2.99 apiece; or you can get the whole trilogy bundled for $3.99.  In addition, the author has several books on some sort of wellness program he calls Plenary Fitness.  And last but not least he has a book of poems for $0.99.

When all logical options fail, try the absurd.  (loc. 2644)
    A Journey Begins has a “first-draft” feel and cries out for some serious editing and polishing.  Give our two protagonists some sort of companions so some dialogue can be written.   Delete the extraneous descriptions, and replace them with some action.  Develop the Xhosas more clearly (the gnomes were much better done), and throw a couple more types of critters into the mix.

    Finally, do away with the cliffhanger ending.  It is amateurish at best; annoying at worst.  A reader is entitled to a storyline with a satisfying conclusion, even if it is just part of a larger saga.  And yes, this is one of my pet reading peeves.

    With enough re-write and polish, this can be a great series.  And who knows, perhaps Books 2 and 3 show significant improvement.  But when the first book falters, it’s hard to justify continuing on with the series.

    4½ Stars.  Add 1 star if you’re okay with cliffhanger endings.

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