Book Review by David Hart
Have you read this book?
This is the first book of what apparently will one day be a series of six, the Thran Chronicles. The setting is perhaps the Earth of thousands of years ago, on the southernmost island of the archipelago of Atlantis. In a prologue we learn of events ten thousand years earlier still, when primitive human civilizations coexisted with the more advanced saurian Verni. Then from another dimension came the Diur, an entity with god-like powers. It somehow created from the Verni two new races, the elf-like Kell and the dwarven Telmet, destroying Verni civilization in the process. Eventually the Kell and Telmet managed to drive the Diur back to its own dimension; but a prophesy says it will return.
The story proper starts with an episode from 400 years before the ‘present’. Humans have multiplied, and are encroaching on the territories of the other races. The House of Suum has taken a Telmet city and its army is driving the survivors into the mountains. For unexplained reasons, the Telmet are aided by the head of House Thran, and the Suum army are defeated with the help of Thran’s magic. But for taking the Telmets’ side against humans, Thran is exiled to the mainland. 400 years later, his descendant, Andalarn Thran, seems to be succeeding in reestablishing his House on Adylonis; then House Suum again attacks him and his Elder Race allies. But Andalarn too is becoming a mage, and has nightmares of an evil being trying to reenter the world.
This book is published on a Print-on-Demand basis. Apparently Blalock has previously written short fiction, but this is his first novel. This may explain the main problem I found with the story: it has a disjointed feel. At several points in the book, time seems to flow at different speeds for the various protagonists; for example Andalarn is said to have been away from his family for many months longer than his activities suggest. We are twice told that over 400 years has passed since the Thran were exiled, but we are also told that Andalarn is the original Thran’s great-grandson; and there is no suggestion of human longevity. Blalock also seems to have lost the plot when the Suum are reported to be besieging what was supposed to be their own city! The Kell require no food, getting their nourishment from the ‘aether’; but are happy to consume wine and ale. Apart from these inconsistencies, my other complaint is of inappropriate local importance: though Adylonis is just one smallish island of just one empire, it seems to have too many magical artifacts, there is no mention of the Elder Races surviving elsewhere, and it is to here that the Diur seems to want to return. Of course these points may be addressed later in the series.
For a first novel, the writing is very reasonable. Blalock occasionally tries too hard in descriptive paragraphs, but dialogue is fine and the book reads perfectly well. For the most part, characterization is good; though the actions of some characters are occasionally inconsistent, and the Elder Races possess little sense of ‘otherness’. The setting is good, with a reasonable amount of magic and a good selection of geography (which would have benefited from a map). The plot of this book is adequate though far from complex, and has a first-of-several feel. The book could stand alone, but there is clearly more action to come.
Is now the right time to buy this book? That depends in part on your feelings about incomplete series; I’m sure you too have been caught out by potential series that abort, or which fizzle out for one reason or another. Overall though it’s a promising first effort.