Book Reviews
Author: JustAWriter

Chapter 9
Journey to Light (Part I of the High Duties of Pacia) - by Bob Craton

(Authors Note: The long description I talk about in my review is the one displayed on the actual page of the story, not the one below.)

Book Synopsis:

While walking unafraid through the awful slums of the great semi-medieval city Matik, Sistére Graice Nínjìng encounters a man unlike any she has met before. Holder’s ‘aura’ shines brilliantly but she is unable to read his thoughts and emotions in it, something which has never has happened before. Astoundingly, Graice’s ‘effect,’ her ability to control everyone else, has no power over him. Intrigued, she takes him to meet her mentor Sybille and the two women discover he lost his memory after a head injury and does not even know who he is. Sybille hires him as a guide for a journey she and Graice must make, partly so they can keep him close until they discover his secret. As they travel, Graice tries to help Holder recover his memory. While he is in a drugged sleep, she ‘sees’ into his mind and discovers small fragments of past events, all involving a beautiful golden-haired woman. When he wakes, Holder still does not remember the scenes Graice visualized but she gains clues about his identity. The women now know who he is (or was) but do not tell him. He must remember on his own for the recovery to succeed.

In the backwaters of the land meanwhile, a boy age thirteen travels with his mother’s older sister (his sole remaining relative) hiding from enemy spies. Moving constantly helps them stay unrecognized as do false names and disguises. The aunt even wears men’s clothes and pretends to be his father. When he complains that he knows nothing about his parents, she reveals his family name and bits of its history. Their surname is an old and great one and his predecessors helped keep peace throughout the land for ages. Later, she gives him an amulet and implies he will wear it someday. It’s an Emblem of High Duty, she says. His grandfather and mother had held two of the three High Duties before they died. Then enemy soldiers close in and they flee for their lives.

A girl named Caelia, also thirteen, hides from the same enemy; she lives with her parents and many other refugees in a cavern where her father searches for secrets of the AnÇ;;;iên people, a civilization which collapsed 3,500 years earlier. Named after a legendary heroine from antiquity, she is unusually bright and mature for her age and her shining red-gold hair sets her apart. Girls with that hair color are born once in a millennium, people say, and everyone in the community loves Caelia. When she wants to leave the cave on an adventure, everybody objects but no one can say no to her. She gets her way and departs with a trading expedition.

When Graice, Holder, and Sybille travel through a wilderness area, a monstrous thing half metal and half animal attacks them. Helped by two non-human characters named Rafe and Belo, Holder destroys the creature but is injured. Delirious, he mumbles something which gives Graice a clue about his lost memory. A woman in a white dress before the walls of Abbelôn was extremely important to him.

As Caelia and the other traders pass near a forest, their wagons are attacked by mounted bandits and one of the outlaws carries her off into the woods. Her people try to follow but cannot keep up. Caelia is no meek princess, however, and escapes on her own. Clearly, she has an ability she did not know about – a talent much like Graice’s.

While riding at top speed, the boy and his aunt cross a narrow bridge. She stops and says she will guard the bridge as long as possible so he can escape. She finally tells him his true name and says, “You must survive and become who you were meant to be. The fate of the world depends on it! Go NOW!” He does and never sees her again.

[Continued in Return of the High Protector,’ part II of The High Duties of PàÇ;;;ia]

Average Rating:

4 Stars

So I’m going to jump straight in there with this book because I feel there are a lot of things to be said. After reading this, I’m still sifting through my thoughts, so I thought that maybe writing this review in relation to the muddle of my thoughts may help me identify my overall reaction to the book as a whole. There is no structure to my views right now as they are a jumble of different aspects of the book, so I’ll summarise at the end.

My first thought hit me square after reading the long description of the book and seeing the layout of the chapters. It was really detailed. And just from processing that I knew this writer would be the thorough intense descriptive writers that I adore. The long description was set in a just the correct order to be the right amount of information and the right amount of mystery. I liked the thought of various viewpoints that the story was going to explore. It was almost as if you would have a compilation of many stories to read that would make up a whole novel and I was intrigued at how the author was going to go about accomplishing that.

So then I opened up the first chapter and started to read with all that built up excitement in me.

But I’m sorry to say that within the first few paragraphs my excitement dropped. It was not the author’s writing that was the problem. The writer has an amazing use of word play, a brilliant way of linking sentences to ingrain the crucial images into your head. My loss of enthusiasm was the actual content itself. This is entirely my opinion, but I felt that the opening descriptions were drawn out and too long. It felt like information overload. Yes the descriptions of the setting were necessary and background information was important; but there is a limit and those first few paragraphs blew above that limit. After reading through the whole descriptive section and realising that the point of all of it was to explain just one sentence, that there was a lady walking along the road – I had to admit I was so gutted. It felt like a documentary...with no useful ending point.

What would have made it so much better would be if those depictions were more spread out over the rest of the chapters. That way the reader is able to slowly accustom to the setting; slowly accustom to the back story and how life in that area was lived, and also follow the story at the same time.

Whenever I pick up a book the first thing I do is read the blurb. And this writer has that description down pat. The next thing I do is read the first page of the book and then the last page of the book. I’ll explain why I do that. The start and end are the places where the author is most in his/her element - starting a book being the crucial time of excitement and ending the book being of the utmost joy for the writer. Those emotions are clearly evident in the writing of every writer. If the reader can pick up that excitement, feel the energy that the writer must have been feeling when coming up with their plot line – then those are the books that are worth continuing to read. Even if the middle of the book isn’t of the same quality, a reader will still complete the book knowing that it started with something special and will end with something special. First impressions really are everything.

Reading over what I’ve written above, I realise I do sound slightly harsh. I’m sorry if I do come across that way because that really is not what I’m feeling. I just believe that this story – the plot line that the author has thought up with so much detail – has such potential! And I hope I help the writer reach that potential with this story.

Other than the first opener, I as a reviewer did have to read the rest of the story in order to give an overall assumption of the book.

I was the most impressed with the way that the author used his own pronunciations for the AnÇ;;;iên language. That gave quality to the work that made up for places where that may have lacked. It shows full creative control of the storyline. It shows that the writer fully engages with the situations in the story; which makes the recollections more accurate and trustworthy for the reader.

As I’ve mentioned before, the writers choice of vocabulary and sentence structures are brilliant. It is vast and that broad range is exploited in every chapter, every paragraph and every sentence. I liked that consistency in the style of writing and it brought out the superb articulate skill for writing that the author possesses.

I have to commend this author on the dialogue of the story. It was of an equal ratio to the descriptions, so neither seemed to outweigh the other. A lot of writers find it difficult to find a balance between the dialogue in the stories and the narrative writing. But this book shows no problem with that and to make it even better, the dialogue was engaging and believable.  

So in general - yes I have arrived to my conclusion - the story is promising. Promising in that it has a unique storyline, a creative array of diction and situations that are portrayed as realistically as possible. The realism boosted my ratings here slightly as taking into account the genre of the book (science-fiction), realism is a very useful skill to have.

As I’ve explained above, the only drawback for me was the excessive content. Describing scenery and back story at a more moderate level and spreading the explanations more evenly throughout the book would make it that much more gripping – from the start right through to the end.

I would give this book 4 stars, as the skill of writing does outweigh everything else.


Thank you


Link to 'Journey to Light (Part I of the High Duties of Pacia) - by Bob Craton'


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