The Cursed Ground 1 - The Child-Stealers (The Edhai) Kindle Edition
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This isn't my kind of thing, usually, not sure what you'd call it -- whatever Lord Of The Rings is, that same genre. Maybe that's why King wanted my opinion -- I read widely in most other fiction genres.
That said, King does a good job focusing on the storyline, and not getting bogged down or distracted by rabbit trails and unnecessary diversions. That's my main problem reading this kind of fantasy literature, the story usually seems to be an excuse for a lot of heavy-duty social preaching, and there's page after page of unnecessary prose dragging the story down to a crawl.
Refreshingly that's not the case here. King takes some time to get comfortable with the narrative, but as it's the first part of a multi-installment saga that's understandable. Stick through the first part and the story hits a comfortable groove soon enough and develops a good, well-paced rhythm.
And he does focus on story, another plus. Okay, maybe there are a few too many characters, but that's probably a personal preference, I understand most readers King's aiming at like large casts of characters. King manages to draw fairly sharp portraits of those he needs to focus on, wiithout cluttering up the pages describing minor characters (another quibble I have with fantasy literature in general).
The story itself is a good blend of action and adventure with a larger, cosmic message that doesn't sound forced. King opens with a well-written scene of a child abduction that sets the narrative hook -- many writers would futz around for page upon page before getting into the actual story, King doesn't waste your time, but sets a strong narrative interest early on to get you through the back story to follow.
Then, yeah, okay, there's some futzing around with characters and tribes, but, well, it has to be somewhere in the book, and it's handled as efficiently as possible, then we're off on the suspenseful chase without undue delay.
Overall a better than average effort from a new author (new to me, I understand he hasn't published much else but maybe I just missed it), who is writing to entertain you with a thoughtful, interesting story, not to listen to himself describing scenery or yammer on about the ideal societies. I'd buy the next installment after reading this one. A worthwhile read for the price.
In this first episode of King's début novel "The Cursed Ground," the reader is taken on a journey with a group of young men from a peaceful tribe known as the Put--a people who have passed down traditions of peace and harmony for generations, But these men are on a mission that takes them far from their peaceful home; they are intent on recovering a stolen child: little Jewel, Boon's sister.
Since this is only the first episode of the five into which King has split this book, there are some topics--like plot and character development--that I'm not going to address in this review. With that being said, there is still much to be said about the 100+ pages of "The Cursed Ground" that "The Child-Stealers" represents. Much of this discovery I will leave to the reader, but the whole reason I'm here is to review, so review I shall.
One thing I immediately appreciated about this book was the attention paid to small details in the characters' surroundings and mannerisms. It was easy for me to start forming a picture in my mind from the first description of one of them, and nearly the same attentions were paid to their surroundings--from the huts they live in to the forest in which they forage to the ground they tread on and the tools they use. King is also very precise when it comes to direction and geography, and the path that Boon and his comrades follow is clearly described and easy to follow.
We all know of great writers who seem to be able to pull the most creative, exotic names for the people and places in their books out of thin air. Other people, like me, get brain cramps trying to crank out just one. What I found relatable about how King put that problem to rest was his use of already familiar words: words that are to the point and often offer insight into the character. Boon. Hue. Avid. And this simplicity and straightforwardness of language carries over into the rest of the story as well. The language is clear and easy enough for a child to follow (and a story that I would be more than willing to let that child read), yet there are underlying ideas that I was still chewing on as I continued reading the story.
A reader often gets more than a hint as to where the story they are reading takes place. This part of "The Cursed Ground" is not so obliging in this aspect. While some words and concepts, like "cubit," mention of 'the Becomer' and even the manner in which the characters speak hint at an archaic--possibly even biblical--environment (without getting preachy, another facet I appreciated) much of the larger setting is left to the reader's imagination. I am certain that this will become clearer in future episodes, which I do look forward to reading. King has put forth an admirable effort in his first novel, and I look forward to seeing where Boon and his companions venture next.
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This is a very good start to a new series. It's a historical fantasy book based on Genesis.Read more