Saturday, 7 January 2012

Life Descending (Cry of Havoc Book One)

Title: Life Descending
Author: John Hennessey
Series: Cry of Havoc (Book 1)


Score: 4/10
Chart Entry Point: 43
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Unlikely


    I was looking forwards to reading this book when it was first given to me. The things that the blurb mentioned were all very interesting: the familiar idea of war in a different world, a man reborn into a new one, and a search for the unique sounding artifact known as the "Impermeable Suit". The blend of common and new aspects of the genre looked like the perfect read for a fantasy reader. I did however, have some problems with it. Beginning with the fact that all the interesting things I was looking forwards to finding out about were barely hinted at in the first half of the book...

    This meant that the plot, for me, was difficult to start off with. It got better around the fifth chapter, although there a still a few little things that seemed wrong here and there. An example would be that when he first arrives in the other world he speaks to some vultures, then hears another creature speak. Yet he later learns that nearly no-one in the world speaks his language. But these are all quite minor things, and I found no major contradictions. And since I found the story quite engaging for the most part, as he encountered various peoples and travelled across the world, Although until he meets Shakara the traveling isn't motivated by the plot, but more on false memories that he holds from the beginning of the book.
    I liked the way Hennessy wrote his characters, somehow he managed to make them all very unique. However, I did feel that Shakara should have had more time in the book, given her inclusion in the book’s blurb, she appeared a little too late in the book to really allow us to get to know her – whereas Bravis and Devoto were much more present, and I found myself quite liking them.

    I feel that it’s important for me to say that if I’d been reading the first few pages in a bookstore, then I probably wouldn’t have bought this book. Because the first chapter doesn’t feel like fantasy. It’s about a man, who has just killed his boss in San Francisco. The second chapter then feels much more like a fantasy novel, as we see him in a more fantastical setting, although at this point it could almost be  a religion story. However, by the end of fourth he’s a completely different person with completely new memories, in a completely different world.
    The third chapter I didn’t feel was particularly helpful to the plot, as it just made me confused. They seemed to be from a historians point of view, and discussed the history of this new world, but before we had actually seen anything of of it. While it made a little more sense in retrospect, I didn’t feel it was really necessary, and was definitely in a bad place.

    I’m not going to say much about the ending, except that I thought it was quite good. It was definitely unexpected, but it leaves me wondering exactly what’s left for the next book. There is definitely a sense of “not quite the end of the story”, but I can’t really imagine those plot threads filling a second book – although I’m not the author, so perhaps I shouldn’t expect to.

    But the thing that I found really let this book down was the description. There was too much of it. And a lot of it was either unnecessary, or repetitive epithets. The Crimson Sun, or the Recurved Bow, for example.  To be fair, there was also a Golden Sun, but if it’s the only one there at the time, it doesn’t need to be described all the time. And it seems that every bow was recurved. I don’t recall mention of any other type of bow. It’s also not a particularly helpful description, as it’s a technical term, and doesn’t actually make any important difference to the usage of the bow.  Which brings me to the other language problem I found within the book. Perhaps the author has a high level vocabulary, or maybe he looked these words up, but there were too many words I didn’t know the meaning of. Enough in fact, that I started writing them down in case they came up later. It was too much, and both issues made it hard to continue focusing on the book.

    While the underlying story I found was good, particularly the ending, I found the way that the book was written made it extremely difficult to read.  However, since I can’t see a way for the story to continue significantly in the next book, I don’t find myself looking forwards to it.

This was a paid review.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): 3 Males, 1 Female
Main Antagonist(s): Male
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Fantasy
Brief Synopsis:

On a world once devastated by deadly climate shifts, war threatens a continent in turmoil. The scorching heat of old is returning, and whispers of a Southern plague cross the Bordergrounds, spreading fear into the fanatical hearts of the North, who prepare themselves for one final holy conquest. At the edge of the conflict lies Tom Navo, a man who has lost a life, only to rise again. But his life spirals into chaos once more when he learns that his memories have been tampered with. Hope and revenge are all that remain after he meets Shakara, a woman who has also been shattered by grim secrets, secrets of missing families, brainwashed soldiers, and a warmongering king. Yet, among these bleak forecasts resides a hint of possibility, a chance to extinguish the coming darkness, with a clue to the location of the ancient Impermeable Suit, the lost enchanted armor of legend, surrounded by tales of triumph and glory of its former bearer. Now, Tom and Shakara seek its power, but others, dangerous and determined, including the zealous King of the North himself, have deciphered the clue and race to find such a potent weapon. In a realm full of deception and disloyalty, lust and malice, corruption and tragedy, stands a story of lords and servants, assassins and soldiers, and extraordinary beings aplenty, whose future teeters perilously on the brink of doom, as all life descends into shadow.

ISBN: 978-0615527284
Website: Author's Site
Amazon Link: UK | US
Published: 2011

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