Title: Rage of the Old Gods, first of the World Spectrum novels
Author: Tyler F.M. Edwards
Hmmmm… how to write a review that covers enough without taking too many bites of the delicious cake that is discovery while reading a new book?
I’m not a book critic or any sort of professional reader. But I do read. Not as much as I used to, but I try to squeeze a few pages in where and when I can.
Before we begin, you should probably know a little about my reading preferences.
I was raised on a robust diet of Anne McCaffrey, David (and Leigh) Eddings, Michael Moorcock, some classic J.R.R. Tolkien, Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, Wendy and Richard Pini, Piers Anthony, and Tad Williams. That covers the majority of the fantasy portion. I dabbled in Sci-Fi/Space Opera with some Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Robert Heinlein, and a pinch of Isaac Asimov. Douglas Adams probably deserves a lot of the credit (blame?) for aspects of my sense of humor that lean towards the whimsical to absurd.
If you don’t know who those people are and you have an interest in those genres, go do something about it. Read MOAR books!
This was my first experience with reading an e-book. I know, I know, I’m terribly behind the times. I discovered a few quirks of reading electronically like worrying about the “book” running out of power, being afraid of dropping the “book,” and spent a few minutes frantically tapping at the screen when a wayward kitty paw zoomed in on the text so as to make it large enough to read from the next zip code. I also discovered that it is impossible to do the “slow page turn”; you know the one where you are still reading the last few words as the page gently makes its way over, as if you can read the story faster just by turning the pages faster. Yeah, that doesn’t work so well in electronic form.
Bafflement of new technology aside, I found the book to be quite a page-turner. Yes, I know, not literally. Page scroller?
Faced with a weekend to spare, I divided the book into 3 sections and quite reasonably told myself that I could do a third each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Had it not been for the awkwardness of the power cable I most likely would have finished the book Friday night. (This may be the thing that keeps me from making the full switch to e-books.)
I really don’t want to give too much away. But I’ll take a stab at this.
The genre of the book is classified as steampunk, I believe. I’m not really up on the new genres so I can’t tell you what that means. It’s got magic and rudimentary technology tied to the magic. Expect swords mixed with tech augmentations our world doesn’t have. Conventional travel would be by horseback (unless you’re in the far north, then you have reindeer and something that surprised me). So it’s not true sword and sorcery, but it’s not high-tech either.
Rage of the Old Gods takes place on a world called Barria. It lies along a spectrum of worlds (hence the catchy series name) where energy is not constant. As you move in one direction, energy becomes more frantic; as you move in the other, energy slows down. Barria is the baby bear’s porridge in this line.
We start with a spirited young woman named Leha as our unassuming protagonist. She is not the hero that seeks great glory, rather she is clever and ultimately is in the right place at the right time. About five pages into the story she is in the wrong place at the wrong time and things go downhill for her and her brother Drogin from there.
Through the story, Leha discovers things about herself that make her uniquely suited to lead humanity in its defense against the book’s antagonists. Which, since I had not the benefit of a dust jacket to glimpse a sneak peek of this enemy, I shall leave nameless for you as well.
But when you come down to it, Leha can do STUFF that other people cannot. This STUFF is a great advantage, but it comes with a price she pays in some of her relationships and her leadership.
If I have one complaint about the book, it would be regarding Leha. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great character – well rounded with personality quirks, strengths, and flaws.
But my favorite hero (and the definition is used very loosely here) is Elric of the Eternal Champion line from Moorcock. I like a hero to be dark and broody and pained and tortured and conflicted.
Leha’s STUFF is an incredible boon, and does have minor negative consequences, but it doesn’t tear at her as deeply as I would have hoped.
Maybe I’m just a sadist.
My hopes for soul-crushing agony aside, I liked Leha and the cast of characters that complimented her.
I liked the worlds they traveled through, each described in terms that illustrated the stark contrast between them.
The plot moved quickly, but didn’t feel rushed. There were times I had “well, why didn’t they just do THIS” questions and I received answers within a few pages. Loose threads that needed to be tied up were mostly resolved, but plenty of strings are available for the next book. In particular, there’s a PLACE I want to see followed up on…
Combat descriptions were plentiful but not overdone, difficult to do in a book that contains so much conflict. Specific actions were used to really hammer home the enormity of the enemy forces and it was successful.
I should have added to my reading list above that I encountered R.A. Salvatore after my childhood in the form of the Drizzt novels. (Again, go look it up if you like fantasy.) I love his characters (tortured hero!) but his fight scenes drag on to the point where I found myself skimming through pages at a time.
Yes, I’ll admit to being a skimmer. Anyone who’s read Jean M. Auel (I’ll help you out on this one – Clan of the Cave Bear) can probably attest to experiencing some eye-glaze as the position of the moon is explained in exquisite detail.
However, as quickly as I read this book, I didn’t skim. I’m not really sure how many pages it would be as a paperback, it’s 250 as a PDF, but there is little that can be construed as fluff. If the word is on the page, it’s most likely there for a purpose.
In short, I liked the book. I still have questions, but that is the nature of a book series. If I didn’t have questions, why would I be compelled to pick up the next book? (Which I will be doing.)
On a scale of Moorcock to Eddings, I would place Rage of the Old Gods at the Eddings end of the spectrum. There is a lot of war, but nothing too gory in the details. The reading is light and fast. Characters have depth but still have plenty of room to grow over the remainder of the series.
The price is very reasonable, between $2 and $3, and available on an astounding number of platforms. Just not paper. /cry
Head over to http://superiorrealities.wordpress.com/ to read more of Tyler’s work, including a lot of behind-the-scenes information about the characters and worlds of the World Spectrum novels.
Once you’ve decided to buy (and you really should) you can access over a half dozen vendors directly from his site to make your purchase.
What are you waiting for? Go read it!