“A mysterious child. Rival wizards. A disgraced elf chevalier righting old wrongs. Wagoneers. If I walked away from such a song, I should be shamed from elf to dwarf and all the courts in between.”
In an alternative France, where all kinds of mythical creatures roam free and mighty wizards determine the outcome of crucial battles, there lived a girl of great but unharvested power. When forced by a wizard of dubious morality to make a choice, Talysse left the only life she knew on a quest to find her parents and uncover the secrets of her identity. With a faithful gnome and a brooding elf as her companions, she will make friends, run away from foes and discover secrets that will alter her perspective and change everything she took for granted.
I find it difficult to pass judgement on A Child of Great Promise. On one hand I enjoyed the friendships and the camaraderie that enveloped in a warm embrace this coming-of-age story, however there were a couple of factors that dampened my reading experience. My greatest (and gravest) issue was the utter lack of backstory. It was obvious that the story took place in France, and other European cities and countries were mentioned, alongside historical figures and events, but then the author added to the equation elves, gnomes, dwarves and various monsters without an explanation whatsoever, without delving in (actually, not even scratching the surface of) the dynamics and the co-existence between the mythical races and humans, their origins, beliefs, etc. Everything was presented as if already known, but I couldn’t find in the story and the world the answers and the depth I expected, and I was left truly baffled. However, after I finished it and searched the author’s website, I realized that A Child of Great Promise is one of many stories that take place in an alternative earth, where Rome fell to goblins and thus the continent’s history was affected. While that explained some things, it still left many gaps with respect to the races and, simply put, the story itself could not stand on its own. Too much information was missing, and that had an impact on the pacing, the events and the story in general. There were many things that did not make sense, such as Talysse’s decision to seek the king in order to find her parents, which had no logical background nor was it founded on previous musings and dialogues, and that left me in a permanent state of confusion, which in turn became tiresome.
Please note that I may sound harsh this far but I actually found potential in the author’s writing and innate talent to express himself. The descriptions balanced between tedious and exquisite, and between the lines I detected a confident writer that knew what he was doing. In the end, I strongly believe that if A Child of Great Promise was enriched with a more detailed history, if it stood on solid foundations and incorporated the world-building that is available on the Altearth website, it would be a truly strong contestant. I wish the author all the best in the competition and his future endeavors.