Sunday, March 13, 2011
It's a bit odd to review the first part of a serialised novel. The book has been divided roughly into 100 pages per issue and so this first part is the opening section to what is going to be a 1,000 page book. Obviously, it's going to end as a cliff hanger and obviously this first part is going to contain a lot of scenes setting up the world building and characters who are to play the important roles within the book. I suppose what I need to be looking at during this review is the effectiveness of this part as the opening to a novel. So here goes!
Blind Eye Books publishes fantasy/spec fiction novels so that should give you an idea of what type of book The Rifter is. It's a dark fantasy set in two worlds. There is the modern day world of America where we meet our hero John and his friends Bill and Laurie, and there is the world of Basawar where our other hero Kahlil (or Kyle) originates from. Kahlil has the ability to travel between these worlds and has been sent on a special mission to America for reasons we are told about as the opening progresses. The narrative alternates between John and Kahlil and so gives us background and insight into both characters, their thoughts and the reasons they act as they do. I did find Kahlil a little confusing at first, especially when he is in Basawar at the beginning of this first part and on the whole I felt more settled and sympathetic with the character of John. John is a geology grad student who gets inadvertently pulled into the story (like all good fantasy heroes) and then has to make the best of situation beyond his control. I liked John, especially that he was scientifically minded but also had a strange affinity with the planet. I look forward to seeing where the author takes this character and develops some of the abilities we are given teasing hints about in this first part.
Another thing I liked about the story is that it currently only focuses on five characters (and a dog). This allows the reader to concentrate on what will be the main protagonists in the tale and be drawn into their different characters and relationships. It also meant that some time could be devoted to the world building, which was complex but not overwhelming without also having to keep track of too many characters. The setting of Basawar is similar enough to Earth so that things are not so strange, but contains significant differences which affect the characters. This familiarity eases the reader into the world building and it wasn't long before I was immersed into the world that the author had created and eager to discover further differences that will affect the characters. As the first part draws to a close, the setting is beginning to widen and I don't think it will be long before more characters are introduced, plus the possibility of politics and intrigue into the plot. I can see especially that there is going to be a lot of change and growth in John and his friends and I am looking forward to seeing how their relationship deepens, or otherwise, as their friendship is tested. The author has also gone the extra mile of creating a whole new language in the world of Basawar, and those who find these thing fun and amusing have a glossary of terms to peruse.
Overall, this was a pretty terrific opening to what looks like it may well be a complex and spellbinding fantasy novel. Strong on character and imaginative in setting, it nevertheless contains a slowly unfolding plot which has already grasped my attention. I think the hardest thing for me with this serialisation is going to be waiting impatiently for the next instalment! I urge all fantasy fans out there to give this serialisation a go. I don't think you will regret it.
A note on how you can purchase this serialisation: You can either buy the first part - and then any subsequent parts - separately for $3.99 each, or buy the whole book at $29.95 and each month the new part will be sent to you via email. More information about this and the buy now page can be found HERE.