- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 2183 KB
- Print Length: 330 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Fuzzy Android; 1 edition (16 Dec. 2013)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005MAWTUM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,892 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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The Warden Threat: A Sci-Fi Counter-Fantasy Novel (Defying Fate Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The book follows the exploits of Prince Donald, a bit of a naive dolt who has read too many adventure stories and believes he can be the hero, just like in the books he has read. But being the third son of the King he's neither use nor ornament. So off he goes, to discover the world and gain 'life experience' under the guidance of a wonderful curmudgeon of ranger, Kwestor. They are soon joined by a food obsessed sidekick-cum-bodyguard named Muce. The three wander the land chasing a conspiracy theory about the threat of a mysterious giant statue (the Warden of the title), with Donald convinced he is destined to somehow intervene and save the day.
As the story unfolds, Donald's experience grows and he eventually discovers the truth about the 'Warden'. His character actually learns and develops through the story, under the auspices of Kwestor, and it is rather touching to see the young prince 'grow up'.
The tale is interwoven by the occasional telling of other characters, and my only minor gripe is that there isn't enough of this. In fact by the end I'm left wondering what happens next with Grandpa Nash and Trixie - but perhaps that's the point. After all there is a sequel to read, The Warden War, and I'm already chomping at the bit to get my teeth stuck into that so the author must be doing something right!
This is a well written and produced book, the humour is gentle but satisfying and rich in satire.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I don't judge a book by its cover and rarely by the little blurb on the back or some times an inner page, which is thankfully a good thing because the cover of this book wasn't helpful for me, although it does somewhat serve to show elements from the story. It just that the dark figure in the background would have to be ten times or more larger to be accurate.
I really enjoyed this book for what it was, which is why I'm a bit disappointed that it really doesn't live up to what it's billed as since it's cover proclaims Book One of the Humorous Science Fiction Epic. First I have to admit that humor can be subjective and I might just be too thick for the humor in this book. But at the point that this book leaves us it can't be billed as well as science fiction as it can as being a fantasy. The science fiction part of this story is there- like some extra appendage that intersects because of a sort of six degree of separation from the main characters in the story. I'm sure as the series progresses that will improve, sadly my skewed sense of humor might not be able to help that other half of the bill.
Again this is not saying I didn't enjoy it, just that it wasn't what I expected. There are plenty of novels out there that deal with magic that ends up being a side effect of some technology that exceeds the imaginative scope of most of the fantasized characters. This one is not unusual in that respect. There are also equal numbers of books that have dystopic themes that blast mankind back into the dark ages into a fantasy world that remembers the magic of technology so this is also nothing extra ordinary or out the norm so to speak. Some of these have actually demonstrated some tongue and cheekiness to entertain.
What drives these types of stories is the characters and I think they do a good job though I had some issues with the consistency of a few characters. None of these were enough to overshadow the entire work. I believe the humor in the story is supposed to be satirical. And the very first chapter sets a pace that might come to rival some not so recent movies I have seen. That pace doesn't sustain itself well though and I'm not sure exactly why. We start with Prince Donald out among the common folk to get a feel for how the other half live. With him is his trusted adviser/guide Kwestor whom Donald has hired although at the beginning for some reason this wasn't quite that clear to me. Donald is a dreamer, Kwestor is his foil or perhaps the realist. I almost obtained an image of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza , although I was hard pressed to make that image stick. In the onset they run across Muce the notso (There's a whole thrill of waiting for the punchline to this that never quite gets there.) They meet through a comedy of errors which set a high bar that they never reach again. I often had this tickle that reminded me of some of Swifts writing, in particular Gulliver's Travels but perhaps without the proper era and history to point to I couldn't get the real feel.
The story revolves around the heads of the three characters most of the time but there are occasions when were reeled around into the head of some of the supporting cast and I think possibly these are some of the expected humorous parts. Perhaps its the long bits of tell that fall into this area that leave it a bit flat. One particular telling instance is when Muce is confronted by a fortuneteller who takes advantage of him. We can see what is happening easily from Muce's point of view, but for some reason we end up in the woman's head getting all of her 'intell' on the subject and perhaps that's what made the humor fall flat for me. It doesn't look like tell as much as some exposition but what happens is we get into a characters head and begin to get a description from their thoughts that helps us understand their motivation which perhaps tries to explain why we should see the humor. I've no problem with telling but those who are sensitive should realize that it's here even when disguised as something else. I've personally always thought, when telling a story there will be times you will have to, well, tell, which is why I don't downgrade stars for telling.
What's more important here is the development of the characters and the interaction between them. There is a whole bit that goes on about Muce and food that we really never have totally explained or told to us, one of those instances of showing. But the real nub of the problem falls flat because the other characters always cut him short at the beginning so we rarely get a true picture of what he's capable of doing that annoys them so much. I for one would mostly be getting hungry every time he started into some story about food.
The pace of the story is pretty steady and kept me going most of the way to the middle but something happened there where I fell out of the magic and I think it might be this:
Donald and company run afoul- well at least Donald does- of a messenger who is left unnamed until later where we learn she is Trixie. The messenger almost confronts the prince for his clumsiness but is dissuaded by companions whom Kwestor recognizes as being from the kings court. She's important to the story- I'm sure future volumes will tell us this. Yet she is mostly an appendage here who meets the mysterious storyteller, Grandpa Nash, who defies Trixie's attempts at categorizing his ethnicity. This will lead to the eventual reveal that shows us that this is truly a science fiction novel. Unfortunately this part never intersects with our heroes and remains yet a mystery that we might not have needed just yet ( Except to try to turn this into science fiction). As it is I found Trixie somewhat engaging and her story at this point was more interesting than our three travelers. So, I think I was more anxious to see more of her story than the rest of Donald and company.
This now becomes two stories; the story of Trixie and Grandpa Nash and the story of Donald, Kwestor and Muce.
The rest of the story for Donald and company seemed mostly predictable yet necessary to develop Donald and demonstrate that neither Kwestor or Muce seem to be as they seem to be. If one can excuse my use of passivity here. It all seems like a cautionary fable. It is quite interesting that Kwestor comes off as a sort of Jekyll Hyde or at least dual personality. One the acerbic skeptic who has no delight in life and is not afraid to inflict his mood upon the prince who seems too chipper most of the time. The other is almost a wise sophist thinker who can't seem to get the other personality to live life the way he sees things.Even though Kwestor's skeptic side seems the loser its more so for the sophist side that feels the the pain that he's found himself unable to convince his other half. Muse seems to be a dullard and brute at time but seems also to possess more than the average intellect when one can wade through his culinary inspired dialogue. He's always coming up with some gems I'm hoping will come up later but, not so far.
This is a great book for fantasy lovers and some sci-fi fans not so much for Science Fictionados- maybe the next book. I can't recommend it as a humorous volume where it seemed there were more serious tones than satirical ones. Perhaps the names of characters were supposed to help push the satire, I'm just not certain. If there is satire here its mired down in a thick morass of molasses and honey, which mired my senses. Maybe the discerning reader will trudge through it all better off than I.
It's a thoroughly entertaining book without the need to laugh myself silly and I'll be looking to the next volume with the hope that these two stories are truly going to meet.
Our hero is Prince Donald, third son of the king of Westgrove and quintessential archetypal fool. He's sweet, naive and idealistic, and longs to be the hero in a story. He's left the palace to wander the country in search of adventure and to get to know the ordinary people. Luckily his guide is a worldly wise character who is able to moderate the Prince's impulses. When it comes to his notice that an ancient and massive magical stone warrior known as the Warden of Mystic Defiance in the neighbouring kingdom is going to be woken and used in a war against Westgrove, Donald sees it as his chance to prove his mettle and be the one to save the kingdom.
Nothing turns out as he planned. Everything is much more complex and difficult than he imagined, and it soon becomes apparent that in real life, the hero is not always predestined to save the day.
However, true to the fool archetype, his amusing bungles make it clear to him that he knows nothing, and that knowledge makes him open to the truth. Because he wanders with ordinary people, he sees things that the King in his throne room cannot. Donald discovers that something is brewing and it's not what the King thinks it is. Will he listen to Donald though?
Donald is a delightful character who grows as the book progresses, and his two companions are equally as endearing in their own way. I love the way his guide nurture's Donald's development, knowing when to step in and when to back off. He is the archetypal father to Donald's fool. The generous, always hungry and not very smart sidekick is reminiscent of the zanni characters from the Commedia del arte.
This is a well written book with a point beneath the humour. Greed is a great motivator, religion can become a method of indoctrination, rumour and mistrust can create wars, and fear and ignorance are a lethal combination.
This book looks deceptively simple, but there is a lot more to it than first meets the eye. It's a skilfully executed work by a talented author with a unique voice. I recommend it to all who enjoy parody of either the fantasy or political kind. Perfect for cynics.
Here are a few choice quotes from early in the book:
"Adventurers did not poop. Well, they did, but they certainly never talked about it."
"The gonds, the domesticated ones that could be ridden anyway, could, admittedly, travel long distances and carry a great deal of weight, but these assets paled when you considered their considerable lack of speed, an intellect approximately equal to that of overcooked asparagus, and their frequent flatulence."
Characters: **** 4 Stars
Donald is idealistic, young, inexperienced, and naive, but he tries hard to do what is right and make a difference in his father's kingdom. He's not a dumb or ignorant young man, he's simply been sheltered from the real world for far too long. Traveling with Kwestor, the unenthusiastic and pragmatic ranger, gives Donald a new perspective as he struggles to learn how to be a man. Kwestor acts as Donald's mentor and advisor, albeit in a somewhat closemouthed way, and tries to help Donald throughout his journey. It doesn't take long in the story before they meet up with Muce, a sword for hire that's a bit of a simpleton and obsessed with potatoes. Muce provides the comic relief during their travels, but the author does a good job of reigning him in when appropriate to keep the reader, and I suppose the other characters, from getting irritated with his long-winded anecdotes.
Plot: *** 3 Stars
Though humorous, the plot had a tendency to drag at times, slowing down the read. I wanted more action and danger, even silly danger, to keep the story moving. There was a lot of walking, and a lot of staying at inns, mixed in with a few abbreviated accidental fights and shenanigans. In addition, the ending was too abrupt for my taste. That being said, I enjoyed the story and the twists within the plot. There are a couple of layers of intrigue, and a science fiction component that I'm sure will be explored in more detail in the second book, which kept me involved in the story.
Setting: **** 4 Stars
I imagined the world as a very rural earth, and pictured the gonds like the banthas from Star Wars. It was fun to combine both the science fiction and fantasy tropes in the story. The Westgrovian society was reasonably well developed, as was the cultural interaction with the Gotroxians. I look forward to spending more time in their culture in the next book.
Relationships: **** 4 Stars
By the end of the story, Kwestor shined as a mentor for Donald. He's the young prince's sounding board, and despite his constant pessimism, Kwestor seems to really care for his charge, wanting him to succeed despite his perception that no matter what he does, the prince will fail. Kwestor provides strong advice and lays the foundation for a positive message throughout the trilogy.
"When all is said and done, success or failure, how you see yourself is really all that matters."
"When you are sure, absolutely sure, you have done everything you could and you still can't succeed, you have to be willing to admit defeat and go on. Some battles you can win, some you can't. That's just how things are."
Genre - Cross-genre Science Fiction and Epic Fantasy Parody: *** 3 Stars
I love a good cross-genre novel, but THE WARDEN THREAT needed a little more science fiction to bring it all together. I imagine this will become more pronounced in future installments, but this first book read almost entirely as an epic fantasy parody until the last few chapters, and the fantasy was slightly muddled by the humorous tone and slow pacing. I could have used a bit more action, a bit more intrigue, or at least a bit more magic to bring it further into epic fantasy.
I did catch a few typos and a couple of missing commas, but other than that, the grammar is refreshingly precise and the vocabulary, well, scrumptious. I admit, I had to look one or two words up, but at the same time, it wasn't a "too-smart-for-its-own-good" book, which I liked.
And as for the bad, that was about it. The characters are believable and well-rounded, although slightly cliche at times. The book avoids all of my major pet peeves. POV is logical, solid, and easily followed. Character motivations are clear and make sense. Descriptions are long enough to be engaging, but short enough to avoid clumsiness or awkwardness. I should make a note here; they are occasionally redundant, like the following passage -
"He approached it slowly, staring up into the stern black face and the cold black eyes that somehow seemed alive."
- but then you get passages like this little tidbit that make you overjoyed you picked up your kindle in the first place:
"The serving girl began to laugh in the friendly but uncommitted way waitresses do to make customers feel appreciated and more generous when it comes time to leave a tip."
One of my favorite things in the work were the little "easter eggs" that would make sense later - little pieces of our modern world in the medieval setting. Take, for example, this scene of a messenger learning to read for the first time:
"Grandpa Nash produced another book for her ... about a dog named Spot that also seemed to like to run ..."
And that's just it. The whole book is filled with little gems that I just want to quote to you, but I'm quickly coming to the point where it's no longer me reviewing and more me violating intellectual copyright. So, in order to help you understand the experience of the book, I will leave you with this note. Usually, when I am reviewing a book for my site, I highlight and make little notes as I go, so that I'll have a lot to say. In this case, I was too busy reading it; I literally read the entire thing straight through in one sitting. \
Aaaa-and it just so happens that the author has agreed to give me a free copy of the sequel, The Warden War, in exchange for another review, so ... you know ... I gotta go. I'll, um, call you .. or something.
Overall Score: 4.8 stars. (Seriously.)
The Warden Threat is available from Amazon here, or from Smashwords here, or you can check out the author's homepage here.
This book was reviewed for Maria Violante's review site, [...]
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