If there is one thing in the world I love, it’s books. I’ve read lots of them. Good ones. Bad ones. So-so ones. I still love them all. I keep telling Kit, we should settle down in a nice town with a library where I can get books anytime I want. I know this won’t happen, but at least I can trade in old books for new ones in most towns.
My most recent acquisition is Blood of the Mother by Peter Tarkulich. I was given this one as a gift to read and review, but I didn’t actually get around to reading it until recently. Actually, I feel a little bad about taking so long, but better late than never, right? So let’s get right into it.
Blood of the Mother takes place in a fantasy world where a great evil, known as the Ulons, are about to be set loose after being imprisoned for several hundred years. Kayden has been selected by the god Ulos to set the Ulons free and get revenge on those that first imprisoned them. Knowing what is about to happen, the goddess Aiella has selected Quentis, a young and not very devout priest of hers, to stop him. This is the first in what is intended to be a series.
After reading the book and taking time to sit, absorb, and reflect on it, I find I have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, it isn’t that bad. On the other, it could have been great book with a little more editing and tightening up. While the story had great potential, it fell short in the delivery. Part of the reason is that so much of the story was telling us how a character felt instead of showing us. This telling rather than showing makes the characters seem flat and one dimensional. One example of this is when characters are nervous or anxious. We are told they are nervous/anxious and no actions are provided. This same feeling could have been achieved by having the characters fidget, get jumpy, or look over their shoulders a lot. Not only would that have told us the characters were nervous, but it would have given some of the characters quirks and habits. Then there was all of the needless backstory. If I had been editing it, I probably would have cut about 30 pages worth of back story and side stuff that doesn’t move the story, develop character, or is really anything we should know this early in a story. Most of these weren’t all in one place (except for the prologue which I think should have been left out entirely), but they are fairly common throughout the narrative.
That said, there are things about the story I did like. One of those things is Quentis. He is both a likable character and a believable one. Despite his situation, for example, he never really gets more devout or faithful throughout the book. While our own logic would say you should get more faithful being the chosen one of a god, the reality is that a skeptic is unlikely to be less skeptical without some hard proof presented to him. Being a skeptic, Quentis remains skeptical like reality instead of immediately throwing himself to the ground and proclaiming his eternal devotion. Dania, Quentis’ love interest in the story, also has some more reality based traits. Her presence is actually a hindrance to group, and she not only knows it, but she acknowledges it. I truly expect that in the next book she will try to stay behind where it is safe rather than put them all in danger trying to save her again. These traits make the characters more human, more life like.
The other major thing I think the author did well was build his fantasy world. At no point does he go on long narratives about each of the countries’ histories, but he gives us just enough of a taste of the country and its cultures to get a feel for it. They never get in the way of the story. Some stories I’ve read will have long detailed descriptions about how each country came to be, complete with all of its rulers, wars, etc. It is nice to see this one does not do that. Despite the book’s intent to be an epic fantasy, it does not bog us down with pointless details like some epic fantasies do.
And it is defiantly fantasy. I mean, only humans live there. Can you imagine a world where the only intelligent life is humans?
What I think I most liked was the inclusion of this “steam” technology. I’ve heard theories about it, but never thought about how it might be used in a more practical sense. In the case of Blood of the Mother, it is used to power boats, horseless carriages, and some other technology. Though there really wasn’t room for it in this book, I would have liked to see it used more. It would have been nice if the characters could have hung out in Zoan longer.
So, in summary, here’s my overall opinions:
- It’s a good story that by the end of the book is just starting to build. There are a lot of places to go with the story and I’m curious where he will go next.
- Magic is not everywhere. This is a nice change. Magic is not imbued in every object or something everyone can do. Magic is rare, as it should be.
- Melody. The bird makes an interesting character, especially since only one person can understand her. She provides a little entertainment and while she has most of the answers, she requires a translator. Most people would have just made it possible for everyone to understand her. It seems more natural that they can’t.
- There isn’t a single griffin in this whole story. I’ve come to expect this, but it is still a little disappointing that once again, griffins have been passed over.
- This is just the first book but there is no second. I put this in because the book ends on a pretty big cliffhanger and the next book won’t be out anytime soon. Or at least, not anytime soon that I’m aware of.
- Dania. I just don’t like her. It seems like her whole purpose in the book is to criticize the others’ behavior, get hurt, and make Quentis feel better about himself. If she had been in my group, I would have left her at the nearest town, both for her safety and mine.
- There is a lot of telling how the characters felt but not much in the way of trying to incorporate that feeling into action. Yes, Quentis and Dania held hands to show they cared, but they rarely pouted, crossed their arms, fidgeted, or did any of the things that show how you are feeling. I think the book could have been stronger if it had included more of that than the “he was nervous” sorts of lines.
So, my overall rating for the book is 3.75 out of 5. I recommend it to anyone looking for a story that if full of action and interesting technology. I don’t recommend it to anyone that can’t be patient for the next book.
Next time, I will be reviewing Beyond the Plains by Travis Bughi. This is also a first book in a series.