Saturday, February 11, 2012

Scriber (Ben S. Dobson)

Ben S. Dobson
Amazon Digital Services
Fiction, Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Scriber Dennon Lark once swore an oath to preserve and promote knowledge, to never let the history of the Kingsland be forgotten... but, for the past five years, he's been hiding from his own past. In pursuit of the lost Archives, hidden since the terrible book-burnings of the Forgetting, he destroyed a priceless religious site and saw nine workmen crushed to death. Once the brightest prodigy of the Scriber Academy, now he hides in the obscure hamlet of Waymark, surrounded by superstitious peasants and unlettered fools, hoping the world will forget he ever lived.
When Bryndine Errynson rode into town, those hopes were dashed forever.
The populace call her the Bloody Bride, rumored to have slain her would-be husband. The pious Children decry her as a blasphemy, a woman who studies the manly art of warfare. The aristocracy considers her a disgrace. But she takes her oaths to defend the people of the Kingsland every bit as seriously as Dennon once took his Scriber's oath, whether or not the people wish to be protected by her. She and her band of women warriors seek the Burners, a loosely-organized band of rebels harrying the good folk of the land and making fools of King Synid's soldiers. Dark whispers of sorcery, of the legendary earth-spirits known as the Wyddin and the long-denounced powers of ancient Sages, surround them - but no sensible Scriber believes in magic.
At least, Dennon Lark never did. Until the Burners strike Waymark... and he hears the malevolent, whispering voices in the air, whispers nobody else hears. They scream in anger. They scream in pain. And, if Dennon and Bryndine cannot unravel their secrets, they will see the Kingsland and every human in it burnt to ashes.
A Kindle-exclusive title.

REVIEW: A competent tale, Scriber wastes little time on setup before plunging the reader into the characters and the story. Dobson establishes a decently-rounded world, more than sufficient for this broad-ranging adventure. The characters tend toward archetypes, but each have their flaws and strengths, some more detailed than others. Dennon Lark, who narrates the tale (and offers pre-chapter contributions from his journals and other writings), borders on Plot-Extending Cowardice (an offshoot of Plot-Extending Stupidity) more than once; though he hears the voices from his first encounter with the Burners, he's too chicken to mention this very important experience until about halfway through. He also needs to get smacked in the face on occasion to stop picking on past mistakes... and he does, as other characters thankfully do what I, as a mere reader, could not. The tale clips along at a fair pace, with a few lulls quickly counterbalanced by bursts of action. Having grown used to multi-book fantasies, I was relieved to find that Dobson wrapped his story up in one volume, with a fittingly epic climax. After some iffy selections, I enjoyed losing myself in a well-written adventure.

No comments:

Post a Comment