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The Red Stone, by Craig Smith
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Publishing
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 10/30/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

The Red Stone, by Craig Smith

Book Review by Lyndon Perry

Have you read this book?

The best thing about Craig Smith's fantasy novel, The Red Stone, is the cover illustration by A. R. Yngve. Too bad it has nothing to do with the story. Oh, a sword comes into play near the end of the book, but its addition to the plot is unnecessary and distracting. But then, the whole story has trouble holding itself together in this meandering and poorly written quest and conquest tale.

Smith (an author from South Africa, not the illustrator from Australia) offers a coming-of-age adventure featuring young Tennen, a nascent wizard under the tutelage of Rimotar, who is given a red gem with mysterious powers. Rimotar promises to reveal the purpose and powers of the stone to his protégé when the need arises. Fair enough, The Red Stone is a story about a young hero with a destiny to fulfill.

This is, of course, a common storyline with some potential depending on how the other factors that constitute a good yarn are utilized -- like a compelling plot, strong characterization, solid narrative skills, and believable dialog. Along with a bit of romance, betrayal, and a satisfying resolution to the conflict, we could have an enjoyable read. Unfortunately, the author doesn't score very high in any of the aforementioned categories.

Now all the seeds are there, but the novel struggles to rise above many of the cliché and overused fantasy tropes that inexperienced authors employ. The setting is Elfwood, for heaven's sake -- but no elfs appear! We have instead a succession of wizards, ogres, orcs, trolls, giants, knights, an evil count, a dragon, a battle (too many of them), a magical sword (empowered by the gem), and a fair maiden. This book was simply trying to do too much with too little, in my opinion.

By far my biggest complaint, however, is the sloppy editing that allows a typographical or punctuation error and/or grammatical mistake to appear on practically every page. And I'm not exaggerating. I opened page after random page and found commas placed arbitrarily within sentences, periods where commas should have been, capitalization flubs, and basic vocabulary blunders (your for you're, etc.). As one who supports small press and self-published POD projects, it was embarrassing and painful to read.

The Red Stone is one of forty or so titles in the catalog of Publishing. I'm unfamiliar with this company, but if the other offerings are similarly unedited and unprofessional, I doubt we'll see very many of their books positively reviewed.

I give it a 3 out of 10.
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