Numen the Slayer (Magnus Dynasty Saga Book 1) Kindle Edition
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The author has a fine imagination and can spin an acceptable fantasy.
Now the problems: The writing still needs some polish and serious editing. Too often, words are missing, usually small words that the reader can figure out, but it pulled me out of the story while I figured it out. There are almost no pronouns in the story (I can't remember any, so there may be none). Every time a character is mentioned, it's by his or her name, which becomes annoying after a while. On the plus side, the reader never has any doubt about who is being talked about.
Also, some obstacles were overcome too easily -- a problem I often have with my writing (I'm too easy on my characters).
Numen Magnus, heir to his father’s baronry, hears a strange voice calling him from a room in his castle home that he has never noticed before. There he discovers a magical sword, forged over a thousand years before. The sword marks him as the true heir to House Marvak the ancient rulers by right. But soon after he makes this discovery, the evil hunchback King Robar arrives at the gates of the castle and slaughters his father and the entire household - except for Numen and a handful of his friends who make their escape and plan revenge…
In my youth, there was a film called ‘Hawk the Slayer’ and although it had bad reviews at the time, I was a bit of a fan. It was rare then to see much fantasy on the big screen and the sheer delight of that alone won me over. So the title of this book stirred a real nostalgia for me and I was looking forward to the read.
‘Unknown to Numen and company, a strange figure was eavesdropping on their conversation.’
The first good thing about this book is the cover. The dragon head, set against a flaming inferno, grabbed me the moment I saw it and is worth a solid star on its own. The story is a great fantasy classic - the true heir is uncovered and the evil ruler tries to prevent him taking his rightful place. There is the quintessential fantasy group of differing skilled friends who go forth to right a great wrong. There is plenty of intrigue and many battles. There is a wonderful magical sword and a powerful dragon ally. All the ingredients for a fabulous old-school fantasy.
‘Seething with tranquil fury, Numen drew his sword and showed it to the army.’
However, this book has a number of problems which spoiled the read for me. The main one was the slippy-slidey way the author wrote. One moment the reader was an eye in the sky watching events, the next in one person’s head and the next in another’s - and sometimes in several people’s heads at once! It made it very hard to keep in the flow of reading.
There was misuse of words as in ‘tranquil fury’ above. Then there was the reportage style of writing: ‘This happened, then this happened’. I particularly struggled with the number of sentences that started with words like ‘finally’, ‘eventually’, ‘then’ ‘after that’, ‘later’ and so forth - sometimes three in the same paragraph. Then there were the list-like descriptions of the appearance of every character (even irrelevant ones) and the stage-direction style scene setting. There were also a lot of stereotypical characters, such as the ugly, leering hunchback evil king.
This is a good solid fantasy story, struggling to escape the clutches of rather bad writing. If the latter doesn’t trouble you, you will enjoy the former for sure.
Numen is the main character in this story and the reader is introduced to him at Magnus Keep while life is still normal. We are given a brief description of who he is as a person but I found that the changes began too quickly. I did not have enough time or information to gain an emotional connection with him. As he develops through the book, he seems to alternate between a lack of confidence and demanding additional respect for his birthright. It did not feel consistent and I was often left wondering why he responded to certain situations in particular ways. Part of me can develop my own ideas as to how this actually did suit his character but more explanation and a greater connection definitely would have been appreciated.
The ‘bad’ characters in the book were often depicted as stereotypically mad, which is fine if that is what you are looking for, but I found it too common and I would have liked them to be a little more unique with their personalities. It left them feeling a little unrealistic.
Not wanting to give away spoilers, but there were deaths in the book that probably should have provoked a shock response from the reader but the lack of connection to the characters really hindered this emotion.
The ideas behind the story had great potential. I like the concept of the underdog coming from nothing and rising above. The heirloom sword with its unique powers was an interesting addition.
However, each challenge that the characters faced was easily and quickly overcome. Problems were often solved within a single page and fights, while detailed, were also short. There was very little suspense. Duels were used on several occasions after a fight and I felt like they were out of place. The story would have been better off with a more drawn out fight scene instead.
There are multiple point of view changes throughout the book, which allows the reader to experience the different sides but it also meant that there were no surprises. I knew what everyone was thinking, and this made the plot very predictable.
That being said, there were still some exciting moments and some of the destinations the characters travelled to were not as predictable.
The world was separated into several different regions but only two of them were really in use for this book. The extended map allowed the reader to gain an understanding of what each region was like and how the two main ones were separated from each other. They remained consistent and well developed.
Grady P. Brown clearly has a good understanding of the medieval world and this is expressed through descriptions of castles, weapons and fighting styles. I appreciated the depth of this knowledge.
There were also other ideas that were added, making the world unique. The types of magic were very interesting and seemed to fit well with the world. There were even special types of metal, and I find these smaller details important when creating a world.
Writing and Grammar
Most of this book is well written, though there are some typos and missing words. I found the lack of pronouns, especially in the earlier chapters, to be really annoying though.
The chapters are really short. This is not necessarily a problem, but for people like me who do not like stopping in mid-chapter, it made it really easy to put the book down.
This book and series has great potential but I was a little disappointed. I would definitely recommend adding more attention to character detail, especially emotional detail. Becoming attached to the characters is really important. You do not necessarily have to like the characters, but you do need to feel emotionally involved.
I would also suggest extending scenes, making problems more difficult to overcome and keeping secrets. Keep a reader in suspense and they will be forced to continue reading to find out more.
I wish Grady P. Brown luck with the rest of the series and I hope my suggestions will be helpful.