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Identity (Salinor the Beginnings Book 2) Kindle Edition
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Plot/characters: The ethereally described world of Salinor, after twice putting down tyrannical magician leaders through valiant action of the Alliance composed of non-magicians, again appears to be facing the rise of still another. Drak, the next in line, is a young student of Shalini, a powerful magician from the first book in the series, who has decided to teach the nation’s youth. Through circuitous routes from shared dreams and contacts and subsequent consultation with an eminent seer, word is beginning to spread that the perpetrator will be the bad brother of Lynton, a most well-liked, honorable young man who has been informed he must kill this brother instead of attempting to reform him. He cannot bring himself to kill his own brother and the situation begins to escalate. It is foretold that all of the royal family will be killed and it becomes incumbent upon two of Drak’s class mates, Tilal and Janon, who seem to be amazingly advanced in their magical ability, to protect him. Simultaneously, Cherann, a soldier who has taken a year off to properly train her young brother, Dent, along with Lela the powerful Seer, her sister Shalini and Lynton who we have learned has special powers as the son of the all-powerful dwarfs, proceed with their counteractions to the impending disaster. The plot gradually advances to chaotic levels. The newly led Alliance once more arises and the resulting battles produce wide-spread death and destruction. Tilal becomes a mighty woman warrior and Drak also performs heroic feats. Janon has become a most important and in-demand healer and admires them both. However, as with the protagonists in book one, he also is interested, and increasingly frustrated that his pursuit of a more intimate relationship with Drak is not proceeding in accord with his desires, begins to become a problem, and this volume, as volume one, ‘ends without an ending.’
Discussion: As I said in reviewing the first volume, the author certainly demonstrates a highly imaginative and creative mind and has a fine understanding of the English language. Further, the verbalization flows better in this second book. However once again. the plot and general features of presentation provide a considerably negative reaction. The former is barely discernable and its destination is questionable. The characterization is minimal, they act little and engage in lengthy discussion, often without proper identification, so that the speaker frequently is questionable. Much description is set forth on the various sections of ‘the world’ and the racial differences in appearance and proclivities. Granted, it is interesting but for the most part offers little to the plot. This second in the series stands alone with little brought over from the first book except for the same problem and a couple of characters. But, this also provides another unfortunate feature, at least from this reviewer’s perspective. So much of the first book was projected onto the importance of a prophecy and the part that was to be played especially by one of the protagonist, it was assumed that Book 2 would continue to pursue this thread. Instead, the protagonists have disappeared, except for provision of the missing protagonist’s name being provided as the place of residence of a young boy in this volume. Apparently the prophecy, even though the basis for the first book was not that important?
Conclusion: For the first book in this series was: “A fantasy of possibly epic proportions that no doubt will appeal to readers closely attuned to the genre. Existing problems have been enumerated for others than those so dedicated. The next volume, of course, hopefully will correct many of these features.”
Regrettably, few problems have been eliminated, and several new have been added. Thus, it is conceivable that fantasy devotees probably still may enjoy this second volume, but it sincerely is questionable whether even they will be enthralled.
Classifying Samuel genre for this new series depends on the entry point in the readers mind. The writing is fluid, richly painted and full of exotic concepts. There is a sense of an epic: the Book 2 further invites us to a strange and fascinating realm that is becoming more familiar with this new entry in the series.
The story soars the imagination, in part because the writing is so lush. Samuel names his many chapters after the characters in the story – Cherann, Shalini, Tree, Cortell, Drak, Lynton, Tilal, Janon, Queen Nafari, and Lela. To taste the flavor of this novel it is best to sample the eloquent writing from the opening page: ‘Another beautiful day in paradise. It feels good to be Atorathian. These were just some of the thoughts going through Cherann’s mind as she walked through the streets of Nera. She was a soldier of good ranking in the Keldonian army and hadn’t been on her home soil in a few months. She was looking forward to the solitude of the main city; maybe going through the garden maze at Leanor’s temple. Just taking in as much of the land in which she was raised as possible. Travelling had been quite an experience. She didn’t want to get stuck in the trap that the provinces were getting into: believing one was better than the other. In her mind, the best way to avoid the rut was to intentionally put her skills to use in another province and travel with people that weren’t her own. Being based with the Keldonians was something she had grown to love tremendously. They were very in touch with nature. It was no wonder that out of all the bad things said about the provinces, none were said about them. Somehow they never lost the understanding of the War of Beginning. As she entered a busy pub, she almost recanted her first thoughts. However, there was an empty table in a far corner where she hoped that she could drink in solitude. If she were lucky, no one in the town would recognise her. As she sat down, she was glad that even though people recognised her, they seemed happy to allow her the comforts of quietness in a noisy bar. In fact, she was so lost in her thoughts that she managed to down three mugs of ale before her peace was crudely destroyed. “Cherann!” She rolled her eyes and pretended not to hear this person. “Cherann. Don’t stare in the mug like you don’t hear me. You come back after months in the early hours and then slip away before morning break. And you’ve had drink without buying me one.” “Without buying you one? You’re a working man.” “But you’re a soldier of high standing. You make much more than a lowly farm assistant.” “An extra strong drought for the boy,” she said as a server approached the table. “So how are you, Dent?” “Just glad to see my sister. How was it this time?” “Great. I love it in Keldon. This is why I live there. Atorath will always be my home, but it calms me there. I feel whole.”
The story rambles a bit – and that is not a problem: it allows the reader to absorb all the elements of this strange place: Salinor is a fantasy land of peasants and magicians, the land of Atorathians, Keldonians and Mironians, populated by sorceresses, spirits, passion, lust, and a fervent desire to overcome the odds that threaten. ‘Sometimes to reach your destiny, you must change. Even if it means the death of a life you dreamed of.’
Recommendation? Read this novel and follow this young author closely. All the seeds are here, waiting to fully bloom. Grady Harp, January 18