Top critical review
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Good tale frustratingly delivered
on 7 June 2013
Clearly the author is a fan of classic heroic fantasy--Moorcock, Howard, with maybe some Lovecraft thrown in (I haven't actually read any Lovecraft yet, but some of the prose is as I'd imagine his work, if that makes sense). This is not at all a Bad Thing, and was my primary reason for being excited about the book. It promised some a classic-style heroic tale grounded in Norse mythology, and with an Eternal Champion a la Moorcock to boot.
Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let-down to read. Instead of sparse Moorcockian prose delivering the tale at a good pace, full of twists, turns and tragedy, Thater is verbose to the point of killing the pace. It was more like Goodkind (Bad Thing), and only the determination to get to the end kept me going. Far from the historically-grounded tale I expected, it seems to be set in one of those pseudo-European manga/video game worlds with a few mytho-historical names thrown in, invented by someone with no grip on the source material (it has a prologue claiming historical sources, a device which falls flat when what follows is so far removed from history). The dialogue is over-long, tedious and full of jarringly anachronistic phrases ("Mr Fancy-Pants"?). Descriptions of people and places slow down the action in the wrong places. It's not quite clear who the protagonist is, and the "Geometry Knight" is kept at arms length to maintain his enigma (unlike Moorcock's champions). Maybe the novelette version was a bit punchier (i.e. better), because some of this seems a bit tacked-on.
STILL, once it did get going, and I'd learned to live with the characters' constant chattering (especially Ob), there were some good bits. The final showdown is still full of relentless, thesaurus-thumbing description, but instead of being used to convey bland background it is put to better use in describing the horrors of the eponymous gateway. Proper heroic fantasy, at long last, and it just about redeems itself.
So basically it suffered from lack of critical editing, like most self-published stuff, which is a shame because I'd actually like to read more of the story but not if it's going to be such a slog.
But hey, at least it's not about a farmboy who learns he has a magical gift and goes to Wizard School to fulfil his destiny!