Along my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to include self-published and small press works in my reading schedule. But it is difficult to know where to start: So many new authors and books to examine to find the perfect fit for my tastes. And to help others with this same problem, I’ve decided to talk about any indie/small press books which I have recently been enjoying.
This time out I’ll be reviewing an entertaining fantasy offering from Michael-Scott Earle!
Series: The Destroyer #1
Publisher: Self Published (February 20, 2016)
Author Information: Website
Length: 401 pages
My Rating: 2.5 stars
I admit I picked up this ebook because of the cover. (It’s a damn striking cover.) I also liked the description, which promised a light fantasy tale with some mystery thrown in for fun. And, overall, The Destroyer was a decent read. It had a cool premise, an interesting main character, and some funny moments, but there were some problems with the execution.
Everything is just a dream. A stranger drifting through a beautiful world filled with floating, green islands, and while he knows nothing is real, he doesn’t really care since he is at peace. Then it all comes to an end when he is brought back to life!
Once our dreamer awakens, he finds himself surrounded by strangers; a motley group of people speaking an unfamiliar language; their minds filled with feelings of fear as well as hope. The main question they keep bombarding him with whether he is “The O’Baarni.”
One problem: our dreamer has no memory. Of anything. No idea what his name is. No idea who he once was. He could have been a hero who saved the world, or he might have been a villain who destroyed it!
The remainder of the story is a journey of self-discovery as the main character, Kaiyer, slowly begins to regain his memory, understands the strange future world he has returned to, and somehow, someway tries to locate a woman to have sex with! Which brings up the problems with an otherwise entertaining fantasy. (And, yeah, I will address that sex remark in a bit.)
First, all the characters here — except for our awakened warrior — are damn generic as hell and completely one dimensional. You know, we have the “tough girl”, the “feminine girl”, the “old-warrior-past-his-prime”, the “asshole-bully-warrior”, the “wise-old-scholar” and the “young-scholar-who wants-an-adventure.” Worse yet is the fact the last of those people (Paug, the young scholar who awakens our main character) is one of our main view point characters. Problem being that Paug’s story has no actual plot and no character arc of any sort. This guy’s chapters basically being that he really, really hopes Kaiyer is the hero who can save them all and that he desperately wants to be Kaiyer’s bestest friend in the whole wide world. To say Paug’s portions of the novel added nothing to the narrative is an understatement, harsh as that may sound, but, simply put, they accomplished nothing except take page time away from Kaiyer.
Second, this story is set in a medieval type world with magic of the Avatar: The Last Airbender sort (Fire, Water, et cetera). Nothing wrong with that at all. I love medieval settings personally, and I don’t demand what I call “sugar coated popcorn fantasy” to have Brandon Sanderson quality magic systems. Problem here was the author kept introducing modern verbiage (especially curse words), modern conveniences like homes with running water (Sure, it could be magic, but it isn’t explained that way at all.), and never felt any need to explain any of it, assuming a reader would automatically accept medieval people in this place talking and acting in a modern way.
Third, and lastly, the sex. Okay, I’m not averse to some mention of sex in my stories, a few sex scenes if they progress the story, but here there were several chapters devoted to the tintillating. (A little fantasy Fifty Shades if you will.) Sure, the intimate relationship with someone in the past somewhat set up Kaiyer’s motivations and helped flesh out his history, but the details of these sex scenes did more to explain Kaiyer’s constant need to proposition all females for sex than anything else, because though I understood this guy had been in a magical coma for a few centuries and had some urges he wanted to explore, the dude’s use of the line “I’ve been asleep a LONG TIME” grew annoying and reinforced to me again why most women hate stupid pickup lines. Plus it never worked.
I mention all these problems with the book to set up a surprising revelation: I still liked The Destroyer more than I should have. Weird, I know? This raising the real question: Why did I like it?
Simple really: Kaiyer. This awakened warrior’s mysterious past really sparking my interest. The opening chapters with Kaiyer’s revival and reintroduction to the world sucking me into this narrative. His surprising revelations of his past life and what the ancient world looked like keeping me turning the pages hoping to find another flashback in the next chapter. The ancient warrior himself remaining an enigma to the very end; the real reason for his entombment in a forgotten crypt unrevealed, demanding I buy the next book to uncover the answer.
To sum up, The Destroyer had more than its fair share of issues, but somehow, someway I enjoyed the evolving exploration of Kaiyer’s revival and restoration. Not sure if others would be able to say the same, but I personally am glad I gave the book a try, might even pick up the next volume in the series.