Litnig Jin has spent his life yearning for the power to weave the souls of the dead into magic. His brother Cole has spent his believing in nothing bigger than his own two hands.
When a dragon sinks its claws into their nightmares, their lives will change forever.
A dream of moving statues, shattered chains, and seething clouds of darkness sets the brothers on a journey into the unknown. A prince asks for their help. A necromancer hunts them. The bloom of first love gives Cole something to believe in.
As the brothers travel the world of Guedin seeking to prevent the hatred of a god from coming to life, Litnig discovers he has more power than he ever thought possible. But learning why may cost him his brother, his best friend, and everything he is.
The Speculative Post's Review
There’s been a big resurgence these days of the sword and sorcery subgenre in Fantasy. A lot of hack and slash amidst very personal settings and plots, where the characters are just handling their own issues, and the fate of the world isn’t really hanging in any balance. Jeff Seymour brings us back to the halcyon days of Fantasy where a group of companions sets out on a journey that may prevent or bring about catastrophe. It lends a great sense of scale to a story, knowing that serious events of world import are happening. As I mentioned in my intro above the fold, it really hearkens back to The Lord of the Rings or Dragonlance’s The Chronicles.
Of course, that which sets this work apart from stories like The Lord of the Rings is our heroes are much closer to being the Hobbits than they are Aragorn or Legolas. We have a pretty young cast: most of the characters are in their late teens, and they really aren’t an experienced or powerful adventuring group. This is a thing I very much appreciate from Seymour, as there’s not much more boring than watching unstoppable heroes mow their way through all the enemies. It makes a story seem flat, and causes the outcome of their final battle seem so guaranteed as to make it a bit of a doddle. Litnig, Cole, and their group get hurt; to be blunt, they get the shit kicked out of them more than a few times. This is still the first book in the series, they don’t need to be superheros yet, and it makes them much more human and engaging.
The ability to identify with characters in epic fantasy is incredibly important. This is the same reason why so many find the original Superman to be so dull. Perfect, unstoppable warriors don’t need to develop as characters. They’re already where they want to be, so where’s the conflict? When you have a Prince ordering people around while they’re hundreds of miles from home, soaking wet, freezing and starving, and that Prince doesn’t even really show any signs that he has any better of an idea what to do than anybody else, you’ve got some great conflict indeed! Seymour also managed to avoid the common pitfall of having his characters discover powerful weapons or previously unknown powers to beef them up. These characters get through their challenges through actual growth and development as people!
Another really interesting thing about this book, to me, is that its publication was funded via Kickstarter. For those who don’t know what that is, Kickstarter is a website where creative types can put up a video describing a project they would like to complete, and solicit donations from interested parties to fund it. There are pledge rewards like you’d get from any pledge drive (full disclosure, I got my copy of the book by pledging to the kickstarter at a level which included getting a digital copy of the book when it was finished), and the primary use of the funding for Seymour was acquiring professional editing services to go over the book which had already been written.
This really raises some interesting issues around traditional publishing versus self publishing. It provides a way for an author who is creating quality work to make a higher fidelity product than they could on their own. It gives independent authors the ability to hire other necessary work to improve their book. In Seymour’s case, this included an artist to make the map, a developmental editor and a copy editor. It raises the bar of just what is able to be done independently for an author, and Seymour has taken full advantage. I’ve read many self-published books before, and while it is obvious that Seymour’s skill is more than sufficient to create a book that reads well, it is also very clear that he made full use of editors to which he might not have had access without this funding. I look forward to the next book in the series, Soulwoven: Exile, slated for publication in late 2014.