Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fezariu's Epiphany - David M. Brown

I guess that since I reviewed a book by one-half of the Tweedlers last week, I ought to review one by the other half.
If I gave stars for these reviews, I would give David Brown five stars out of five for world-building without a second thought.  He has spent more than ten years creating and embellishing the history of Elenchera, the fantasy world where his "Elencheran Chronicles" are set, and it shows.  Brown's land is rich with detail and robust with a sense of its own history.

In this book, we follow a man named Fezariu from a happy childhood, through the death of his mother, to his career in the Merelax Mercenaries.  A mission with the mercenaries brings him to his mother's hometown, where he discovers that she didn't die, after all.  Fezariu then must decide whether to take revenge on the man who stole his mother, and his childhood, from him.

The plot is interesting, the world-building is awesome...but.  You know by now, if you've read my other reviews, that I have a problem with third person omniscient point of view. I call it the "little did they know..." point of view, because it can tempt the author into telling more than showing.  Here's one example:  In my opinion, the book would have been stronger if the reader had learned of Fezariu's mother's past as Fezariu himself learned of it.  The way the novel is currently structured, by the time Fezariu gets to the brothel, the reader is not consumed with a desire to find out what happens next; instead, the reader is dreading Fezariu's reaction when he finds out where, and what, his mother has been all this time.  Plus we are robbed of the sense of discovery, of putting two-and-two together and getting that "aha!" moment that's part of the pleasure of reading.

Another problem with third person omniscient in epic fantasy is that the author can be tempted to throw in more details about the world than are strictly necessary to the story.  I saw some of that in this book.  Of course, third person limited can go the other way and not give the reader quite enough information to find his or her feet (*cough*Malazan*cough*).  But a good editor can help an author find the sweet spot between those two extremes.

I also think a capable editor could strengthen the narrative in Fezariu's Epiphany.  Probably one-third to one-half of the adjectives and adverbs could be cut, and stronger verbs used in their place.  But that might be a matter of taste.  You know me -- I loves me some action verbs.

To sum up, Fezariu's Epiphany is a first book that shows promise, but needs some work.  And I'm looking forward to returning to Elenchera in Brown's second book, A World Apart.