Today I bring you a pre-publication review, (I feel so honored to be one of the first to read it) The Sea of Storms (Lonestone book 1) by Mark Whiteway. I like to consider myself a bit of a writer, though you will never find my name on anything in print, so I understand the need to “get right into the action” and in The Sea of Storms MarkWhiteway certainly does that. Considering this a a speculative fiction novel, I would have liked to see the setting developed a bit more first though. Right off the bat we are witness to a fight between a Keltar and a stranger, but who are the Keltar? What purpose do they have at the village? What is the stranger trying to protect the children from? Because I know nothing of the two parties involved, I find myself not caring about the outcome.
Well, after the initial adrenaline rush the book does calm down and bits of the background is given. Turns out lodestone is a mysterious matter that has the property of repelling forces acting on it. It’s like a magnet but not really.
The book is definitely a page turner (figuratively speaking as I don’t actually have the physical book). Every scene, every passage, and every page advances the plot; we are not bogged down by too many descriptions. The author very skillfully reveals background information, such as the origins of the lodestones, as part of the action rather than lengthy exposition.
Without giving away too much, the character of Keris intrigues me. How is it that one encounter with a certain someone changes her whole belief system? Much like a person believing in Santa Claus their entire life and then just one day gets up and declares they no longer believe in the jolly, old man.
For the most part the narrative is very consistent. But there is the odd occasion where the author will throw in something for the sake of making something out of nothing. For example, I don’t much care for the line
The searing crimson of agony faded to the absolute blackness of oblivion.
Luckily it doesn’t happen often or I may have stopped reading already.
I very much dislike the character Shann – she’s annoying, she’s rude, she’s pompous. In other words, she’s a kid. I must credit Mark Whiteway for getting the behaviour of a kid just right (I should know, I am a teacher and have to deal with kids every day). Yes I see the irony in a teacher disliking kids.
One thing that confused me a little was the use of italics in dialogue. The use of them seemed to be inconsistent. Sometimes it would be used for a certain character, sometimes it was used to remember a past dialogue, other times it would be used for the voice coming out of the ring, still other times it would be used to represent a thought rather than actual dialogue, and other times it was used to show emphasis.
What I didn’t understand was why Boxx was always referred to as “it”. The Chandara in this book have a long and rich history with their own culture. It wasn’t mentioned, but I assume they do not reproduce asexually. Two of the characters in the book even wondered what the mating call for Chandara is. Well in my mind Boxx is a male.
The way I see it, even a book that is part of a series should have events leading up to a climax that is resolved in the book. In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time for example there is always one big battle at the end of the book. It’s clear the series isn’t finished, but there is still a sense of finality to the book. The Sea of Storms on the other hand does not have this. It’s clear who the main antagonist of the whole series is and not once did the protagonists encounter this person. The mini antagonist in the book just didn’t seem all that imposing or be of any real threat so when the protagonists met up with him I had no interest because I knew he was a non factor in the whole series. Considering there was no real direct or indirect encounter with the main antagonist, there left no doubt whether the protagonists would cross the barrier or not which only added to my sense of emptiness at the end of the book.
Anyways, great book. Well worth the read when it becomes published early 2010. Thank you Mr. Whiteway for giving me this opportunity to read this book even before publication. I very much look forward to reading the next book.