Promising start to the series
In general fantasy is not my favourite genre. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading this novella.
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I really liked the main character, Alieda. I love how she is such a strong and free spirit, going out alone into the mountains for days on end. She is so talented and skillful, as a dancer, as a woodswoman, as a farmer. I am sure she will be a great character to develop, as what is sure to be a long series of novels is written and published.
The novel introduces an entire world which resembles our own but has some obvious and important differences. One criticism I do have is that at this early stage in the series, the reader knows little about this world, its history or inhabitants, and that hinders the reader’s understanding of what is going on. For example, the Summary mentions several things; the “Seal of Silence”, a former evil ruler; that are not touched upon at all in the story. Of course I understand that these things will be explained at some point, but for this novella the Summary does not seem to relate to the story that is actually told.
As a further example, the Prologue introduces a character, Grey, who we barely meet again until the Epilogue. It seems also that the world is shared with at least one other intelligent (sort of) species, grakken gnomes, with whom humans seem to be in a state of conflict. This seems like a fairly important thing, but is barely touched upon in the novella. And again, the importance and powers of Grey’s staff remain unknown to us.
Of course I understand that this is only the beginning, and there is merit to leaving room for the characters and the setting to develop, rather than locking them early on. Still, this is the novella I read, and for me the set and setting were not developed enough for me to really get a handle on the plot, and to understand the motivations of some of the characters. I also found the plot a bit slow for the first several chapters. The pace of the novella seems more in line with a much longer piece, rather than the short one we have. I am sure these issues will be resolved as the series continues, but I would suggest that publishing this piece as a complete novel in the series would not be the best idea, because to me at least it seems underdeveloped.
The writing style is excellent: simple and direct with some stylistic and vocabulary flourishes, which I actually liked. Grammar and spelling are all but perfect. I noticed only one typo, in chapter 23 where “brought” is misspelled and “brough”.
All in all an impressive work and I can see how it could develop into a long and successful series.