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The Wanderer's Tale (Annals of Lindormyn) Paperback – May 13, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Bilsborough aims high but falls short in his debut, set in the world of Lindormyn. Drauglir, the canonical down-but-not-out Dark Lord, and his mob of unhygienic evil creatures are making a comeback 500 years after noble warriors known as the Peladanes defeated them. While the forces of evil have regrouped, the Peladanes' descendants have gone soft. When warriors Nibulus and Finwald attempt to raise an army after Appa, a cleric, has a vision of Drauglir's return, soldiers and friends alike laugh them off. Only Nibulus's old companion Methuselech and a mysterious hooded mercenary are willing to join them as they follow Appa and Bolldhe, the oddly ordinary destined slayer of Drauglir, into the dangerous northern land of Vaagenfjord Maw. Unpronounceable names and sesquipedalian prose abound. Hopefully, the promised sequel will venture into less predictable epic fantasy territory. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This solid first book opens the fantasy saga The Annals of Lindormyn. Sure, Bilsborough's narrative technique needs polishing, the plot involving the revival of an evil force thought to be centuries dead is hardly novel, and the cast is rather too large to introduce comfortably in a single volume (it may be awhile before readers can settle on a favorite character, or even find the protagonist). The saga's world is conceived on the grand scale, however, loaded with detail, originality, and wit. The richness of Bilsborough's world building demands that the narrative proceed at a more leisurely pace than some will like. Still, a very promising debut. Green, Roland --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I cannot describe how desperate I was to put this thing down, chapter after chapter. I kept plugging away in the hopes that something would change, or, minimally, I could at least tell you I read the whole thing and that, indeed, nothing changes.
First and foremost, I wish Mr. Billsborough had simply put the thesaurus down and wrote using his own vocabulary. I cannot describe to you how adjective-weary I am. Lesson to all authors: piling on adjectives does not mean you've painted a clearer picture in the reader's mind, especially when most of the adjectives you use mean roughly but - importantly - not the same thing. Also, because it _does_ seem so apparent the author was pulling out a thesaurus every five minutes, the result feels like the author must be schizophrenic. One goes from sentences like, "Volcanoes there are too, mephitic behemoths of incandescent fury that cough great pyroclastic clouds upon the seething ice fields below," [Page 1], or "It was a slid visage, a melted countenance, a facial glissando" [page 434] and "dissolved into nothing more than a massive puddle of venomous effluvium", to having certain peculiarities simply described as, "wierd." Incidentally, I'm not sure I've ever read a fantasy or spec. fiction work that used the word, 'wierd' so often. Probably because most fantasy or spec. fiction authors know that the word 'wierd' is out-of-place, and ultimately inneffective, in a setting that is inherently, 'wierd.'
Similarly, the author can't figure out if he's a depraved sicko or a puritan. In one chapter, he vividly describes the maggot infested corpse of an infant left on a walkway, which one of the protagonists callously kicks off the walk into the water below, and in the next chapter the author is substituting "armholes" & "armpits" for curse words. Of course, this doesn't stop him from using f&@% in other parts of the book. Generally speaking, you can count on every description to be over-the-top.
The plot, beyond not really being there, is extremely silly. We're told that this is a quest novel, which should go some length in excusing a series of basically unrelated events, but it doesn't. Very little of what actually happens to the protagonists will end up making a difference. Each event is simply a showcase for the author's grandiose vision of a "world teeming with peoples, history, cultures; a world rich with fabulous landscapes and hidden terrors." Note to self, never buy a book because the book-jacket makes the setting sound exciting.
Also, I was constantly flummoxed by the characters doing things they expressly said they would not, and implicity is understood that they would not. The author crams the actions of the characters into the plot, instead of the other way around. The decision of the character Boldhe on page 415 is so counter to every shred of evidence of his character provided before hand - though absolutely necessary to the plot - that it would be laughable if it weren't so sad. In other instances, the author avoids the ridiculousness of actually articulating for us the counter-intuitive decisions of the characters by simply fast-forwarding to the next scene and then trying to explain the ridiculous decision afterward.
The foreshadowing does not so much foreshadow as cast a brilliant spotlight on what's going to happen in the future (the secret evil identity of a major character, perhaps), or it simply doesn't exist at all. Thankfully, from the author's perspective, one can always explain backwards in the narrative why a certain something wasn't foreshadowed. "Oh, by the way, I happen to have been carrying around this useful device this whole time. Sorry I didn't mention it before...."
The book is not without its attributes. Chapter two, which describes the capture of the Bucca, was well-imagined and kept me reading longer than I otherwise might have.
But for every well-wrought bucca there is a ridiculous "taxi" ride scene that wallows in cliches about how cab-drivers everywhere are always foreigners and have little regard for traffic safety, or a James Bond Q-like techno-wizard scen, with the niftiest gadgets for the hero to take with him before he leaves on his mission (most of which you never see again.)
Finally, just because you give something an alternate spelling doesn't mean you've created something new. (it's especially shameful when you admit as much in your bestiary in the back of the book)
fyr-draikke (fire drake) = dragon
Also, you might as well as admit that Peladanes are paladins. I don't even remember the extravagant word used for vultures.
If it's okay to have horses and hedgehogs, it's okay to have dragons and vultures.
I don't really blame the author. It's his first book. It's a little criminal that I know many writers with better debut novels that haven't yet been published, but...my primary disappointment is with Tor. I am sorry to say that the editors at Tor, with this volume, have finally published their way out of my good graces. In the past, if I couldn't find a good read, I'd just grab a Tor book. No more. Last mistake for me.
This isn't just standard derivative fantasy. This is horribly written; laugh-out-loud at the beaten to death tropes that weren't even fresh when J.R.R. Tolkien took up pen. The prose is so purple I wouldn't be surprised to hear it died of the gout. The usage of adjectives is overly florid at best. At worst, which it usually is, it is more like taking a thesaurus and picking the synonym with the most syllables. No matter how tenuous the usage in that particular sentencing.
Bilsborough does nothing to build any type of plot, let alone logic in character actions. A declaration of danger is made; typical group of companions forms with no real sense of reason and off they go vaguely a wandering. Instead of character development the author merely informs the reader as to their thinking. Motivations and dimension? Look elsewhere. Even slightly entertaining reading? Only if you like to laugh at someone. Cruelly. For several hundred pages. And do you really want to spend money laughing at Bilsborough's ineptitude?
It's too bad there isn't a zero star rating. Or even a negative. So don't consider this actually a 1-star rating. Consider it a negative five star rating. Next to Bilsborough, Goodkind and Newburgh look to be masters of their craft.