Ah. Another day, another book and another place to visit through its words. The book is a fantasy. When I open it, I expect magical lands and spiritual worlds concocted by the creative, imaginative mind of the author. A fantasy has to have that narrative charm to hold my attention and keep me glued to the book, wondering what materializes on the next page. This book promises just such a world… worlds, rather.
This book has been a slow, long one. I admit, when I got the book, I was expecting to read it very quickly, given that it’s a fantasy. But it’s just managed to do anything but hold my attention. It felt heavy, right from the get go. The fantasy, rather than making me experience what it had to offer, felt like it was showing me the scenes. I’ll take the starting paragraph as an example. (Writing it as I have found in the book. Going through the publisher site, I feel I may have got a first draft copy perhaps, but it doesn’t change much.)
“The sleepy village of Zyren, in the peaceful vicinity of Himra forest, was abuzz with a strange and ghastly incident that had left a cold, lingering feeling in the hearts of everyone, right from a small boy to the village elders. An event, which the village elders had not witnessed in their life time nor could they recall any such incident being narrated to them by their forefathers. Daily chorus of the village were disturbed and come to a halt.”
How beautiful it would have been if the author had managed to make me feel the cold, lingering feeling rather than just tell it in words. And the editing, or lack thereof, shows in the last line. When the opening paragraph itself has a problem, it makes me look at the rest of the novel a little harder. The parts that lack come more to the fore than what I loved. That’s a shame really, because a fantasy novel’s pace usually is enough to mask these small glitches that may crop up by accident, but there was no pace to do that. There is an overdose of editing problems, like tense or even typographical errors.
The plot is easy to understand and follow. It might even be real, if you think of it. Two disputing kingdoms, the village bewilderingly caught between them. The villagers appeal to one kingdom, the king rises to their aid, only to be caught by the other kingdom. That in turn leads to nemeses becoming allies against the darkness, helped in their efforts by a “master”. It is not very confusing, but it’s not something on unexpected lines either. The message that the author conveys is nice, it felt like the yin-yang concept to me. The twist toward the end was nice, but the reaction to the twist felt out of place. The character names are so-so. On one hand you have these names like Jickson and Prede, William and Sara, which feel like Western names, and then you have names like Shalaka and Dussht which feel Indian. The best part of the book was the map at the end perhaps. That was something that got a smile.
Is the story engaging? To an extent, yes… even though the plot is not unpredictable in its flow.
Could it have been better? Most definitely… the overdose of editing problems is something that is too much to ignore, and if that wasn’t enough, the narration felt bland. It was too descriptive for my liking, because a fantasy novel should create magic in narration according to me.
To end this review, I’d apologize to the author and to a friend, via whom I got this book. It’s taken me almost twenty times the number of days I’d been asked to read and review the book in. I haven’t loved this book, in all honesty, but I feel the author has the potential to write much better. Even getting this book edited properly would have made this a much better read that what it turned out to be.
IN A GIST:
Positives: Map at the end, a yin-yang concept in the plot
Negatives: Very poor editing, heavy feel to narration, predictable plot for the most part
Title: Age of Hiblisk
Author: Sumukh Naik
Publishers: APK Publishers
Price: INR. 295
(25th Nov, 2013)