Kindling (The Obsidian Embers #1)

Write on: Thu, 05 Oct 2017 by  in SPFBO - ROUND 1 14642 comments Read 163500

     Kindling features interesting main characters and great action scenes, especially in the last quarter of the book. It opens with a great prison sequence which reminded me of the Elder Scrolls games. The main protagonist Zahir left a great first impression on me, as did the realistically depicted inmates. However, after the first chapter it started to fall flat due to the dire need of editing. I can overlook a flaw or two, but they piled up rather quick.

      Before I talk about those, I would like to talk about the positive aspects. Zahir and Marietta are definitely interesting and complex enough, also easy to root for. Absalom and Althea, are pretty cool, even though I did not connect with them as well as Zahir and Marietta. The buildings, castles, citadels and dungeons are realistic and interesting with vivid detail. Gore and splatter is well-executed. I am no fan of gore, but it was depicted pretty good without being too repetitive. The cannibalism and savagery of the zombified pit-dwellers is one of the highlights of the book, with the drama and tension aspects neatly woven into the brutal imagery. I found the the action in the last parts of the book quite impressive with the perfect pacing and suspense elements.

     Unfortunately there are also quite a few issues. First of all, there is a major Wheel of Time derivative aspect. The order of sorceresses called the Flames sound like the Aes Sedai taken over by the Black Ajah. The symbol of sorcery (flame) is pretty much the same as the Aes Sedai symbol. Men's magic is tainted and they turn into monsters when their power reaches the pinnacle. The Flames ladies hunt down and kill the men with magic, and they use the ones with rare powers as tools until those men go berserk. This was a tad too much for me to overlook as a reader who values originality above all else.
The second issue is the villains -with the exception of the evil king- being too one-dimensional and their motives not convincing at all. Dejanira and Pax are hard sells with the attempts of establishing some inner conflicts falling flat. Out of all the baddies, only the king's villainy and motives make any sense.

     The third issue is the excessive amount of beginner mistakes. Overuse of pronouns, head-hopping without mentioning any names in the same paragraph (I had to read a few times to realize the POV switched), the dizzying flip-flop between 3rd person limited and omniscient, grammar errors, repetition, lack of sentence variation in many places, and excessive use of modern language to name a few. There was also a major logic flaw: In one scene, the characters hide in a forest in the dark but they can somehow see the hair and eye colors of the people they run into. They can see someone blushing. You can't see anyone's eye color -let alone things like blushing- in a dark forest, even with the full moon. You won't see two inches in front of you in a dense forest at night without artificial light. 

     They are running from the enemies so they have no torches or any light source. Another one was when the travel party bought raw meat when they went shopping for supplies for a long journey. They ride for hours, then set up camp and cook the meat. This is unacceptable for experienced fantasy readers, as well as anyone who has any exposure to outdoors lifestyle. You don't haul raw meat on the road, period. 

     Another example of logic error:

      "His eyes remained fixed behind him as he ran, watching the women approach."

      This character is running for dear life from murderous women. The image comes off too comical and robs the scene of its substance. You simply can't run with your eyes fixed behind you, not for long at least. 

      As for the excessive modern language, I will quote from the book:

      "I know you need some cultural assistance"
      "If I were in charge of this assault, I would opt for option number two."

      "The boy's guardian is a psychotic weakling"
      "...head high, his chocolate eyes focused straight ahead."

      "He held it like a pro."

      "I hope he learns to keep his negative opinions to himself."

      "Wooden beams like a lowercase T were set up..."

      This kind of language sticks out like a sore thumb in a fantasy book with a pre-modern setting, definitely sours the reading experience. 

      There are other rough edges, such as people widening their eyes all the time and everyone tearing up to much. With a few passes of editing and proofreading, and changing the WoT derivative aspects to something more original, this story would be a decent read I'd recommend. But as it stands, unfortunately it is not quite there. 

     However, if you can ignore all the mistakes and rough edges, at least two very likable characters and the entertainment value of the action, chase and battle scenes make it worth reading. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 17:15
Leona Henry

I’m a Linux admin by day and fantasy writer by night. I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey and relocated to San Jose, California in 1999 to work in the tech industry there. After living in California and Texas, I moved to Finland in 2013. I have a book review blog and currently working on my first fantasy book.


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