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The King of Futures Past Paperback – February 13, 2004
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About the Author
Jamie Simocurrently lives in northern Virginia.¿ She studied at Oxford University for a term and is agraduate of George Mason University with a B.A. in 18thand 19th century British and American literature.¿ The King of Futures Past is her first novel.
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Secondly it should be said that this is not merely children's fantasy. While it is not a story that merely piles on gore or adult situations for no reason, it is a story about mature people with mature relationships, interactions, and ideas. If a character is skewered, you see them skewered. If one character misunderstands another, you see all the resultant consequences for both characters emotionally and in the world of what happens. There may be violence or unconventional interpersonal relationships at times which are not shied away from but do not litter the work at the expense of all else. While one of the examples of this book not being a "children's fantasy novel" is something I cannot give away due to it being a plot detail, another which I can freely share is that the very idea of the faerie tale itself takes on a much more sinister shade... the faerie tale(s) here are not your cleaned-up, Disney-animated kind of faerie tale, and at times are much more sinister than the cautionary underpinnings of the violent original Brothers Grimm tales. As the back cover's text suggests, there is much more to what Malora Osonne thought to be a children's faerie tale about "the Hunter" at work here, and that "much more" is not simply more violence as it usually is in a Brothers Grimm tale. Also, while even good fantasy can be escapist fantasy, as Peter Beagle says The Lord of the Rings was to people in the 50's and 60's, this is not so simple or idyllic to be considered as escapist fantasy. Definitely not escapist fantasy, but I found myself sucked into it even so.
The prose and tone is well-written and fairly well-equalized for a story as long as this... given its length and the number of things that happen to the characters, including huge amounts of growth, I prefer to consider it a saga. It is long enough and wide enough that I could see it have come out in multiple smaller books... perhaps two or three. It is a real pleasure to read so well-begun, well-continued, and well-ended a saga. Character changes that might in other stories be held off until the end of the story, resulting in a sense of sameness and drudgery until then, are instead handled differently, and transitions to new situations and circumstances are complex and given both story and backstory. Also an easy trap to fall in here (one which other commercially large works sometimes fall into) would be to develop Malora's character at the expense of the others' (in terms of lacking development)... thankfully, Jamie Simo doesn't fall into that trap. Also, there aren't merely good guys and bad guys...
The book's world includes a cultural atmosphere with specific (multiple, it should be noted) theologies and religions in play, which offers the kind of detail to the world that good sci-fi or a saga like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings share. Also, religious and spiritual ideas, including a notable one from Hinduism (though not cited to Hinduism inside the world of the story) abound and are intertwined in the story, its plot, and the atmosphere of its world. Even little details like particular habitual swears instead of our own usual "Oh my god!" or the like are included. Also, there's more going on in this world's history than just what they're caught up in. Not everything you hear is about the history of "the Hunter" in terms of legends and historical bits that the reader gets from the story world. Not everything in this world is tied into THIS story, there's more to the world. However, enough is related as to deepen the story that it's fascinating. I like that.
The story ends satisfactorily but allows you to imagine, especially for some characters, just what the future might hold, without it being a clear-cut case.
In closing, I should comment that, as the "About the Author" info indicates, this is Jamie Simo's first novel. If this is how she gets started, I for one look forward to more. Whether it be more of this story's universe, or another undertaking, her craft with the written word makes for an excellent book and pleasurable read.
As this gripping tale unfolds, we find that Malora and her father are not the only ones in danger. Malora finds herself caught up in an ages-old war against a race of supernatural beings known as the Old Ones. An ancient prophecy is about to unfold, and Malora begins to undergo the greatest coming-of-age ever when she realizes the fate of life on earth rests on her shoulders. Along the way she encounters a fabulous supporting cast of characters (keep an eye out for a wizard named Akillos!) and casts aside the rather large chip that once burdened her shoulder.
The King of Future's Past is author Jamie Simo's debut novel. Simo shows incredible skill, for this story is a pleasant, well-crafted read. The dialogue is some of the best I've come across in this genre, believable and even humorous. The plot unfolds quickly from the first page onward. The King of Future's Past never makes the common amateur mistake of lengthy, tiresome descriptions. Each sentence is constructed with care to push this tale along toward it's exciting and surprising conclusion. The characters, particularly Malora, are portrayed with real feelings and faults. It's exciting for a reader to envision a cast with such dimension. Even the ''villains'' seem quite realistic. The story itself is one of a kind, a refreshing change if you've read one too many Tolkien rip-offs. Jamie Simo has raised the bar for all first time fantasy writers.
Malora Osonne starts at the beginning of the novel as a simple inventor's daughter, but winds up caught in a web of intrigue and revenge that's centuries old. By the end, you really feel like the weight of an entire civilization is on her shoulders and what she has to endure to break the prophecy that keeps the world bound will keep you riveted.
The characterizations are wonderful. You aren't pounded with unnecessary information in every paragraph about what the characters look like, what they feel, or how they dress. Their personalities and relationships with each other shine in the dialogue, a crucial part of the development of the plot.
Even the descriptions of the landscape and political agendas of the kingdoms in the story are understated but are clearly defined. No overuse of descriptors is evident and each detail leads to another facet of the overriding plot.
Beyond the most evident plot, there lies more than what you might bargain for. Magic and its nature comes into play in a more interesting way than what is typically thought of in a fantasy novel. So too are the villains of the story. The 'Old Ones' aren't just cookie-cutter evil-doers out to rule the world because they can, there's more to their intentions that goes deeper than just maliciousness.
I highly recommend this book. If you like works by such authors as Tad Williams and Robin Hobb, you may also enjoy THE KING OF FUTURES PAST.