dinsdag 16 april 2013

Review: Ben Galley, The Written

Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s something I’ve been taught and I try to apply that to my book buying as well – and judging from the monstrous covers that flourish on my shelves, I seem to do a pretty good job at that. However, when it came to the Emaneska Series, I let the cover seduce me into buying it. I first came across Mr. Galley’s novels on another blog and the beautiful simplicity of the covers for both The Written and Pale Kings stood out to me. The blurb seemed alright, so I just had to have those covers. The cherry on top, was that there was a great story hidden this gorgeous piece of artwork.

His name is Farden. They whisper that he 's dangerous. Dangerous is only the half of it. Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options. Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesn t want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await. Breathtakingly vast, chillingly dark, brooding and dangerous, The Written will leave you impatiently waiting for the next adventure. Welcome to Emaneska.

This might sound like your average cookie cutter fantasy plot, and as a whole is does resemble that in some ways, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I very much enjoy novels like these and it doesn’t always have to be new and ground-breaking to be enjoyable. While staying true to the classical Epic Fantasy novel plotwise, The Written incorporates some elements from the gritty fantasy that populates the bookshops in recent years. This gritty aspects returns in the character of Farden, as well as in the language used and certain scenes. On top of that, Ben Galley came up with some very nice little things to spice up the novel, such as the concept of the Written – which I found very intriguing – and things like a Tearbook and the Storm Giants. It’s things like these that take it a level above the Cookie cutterishness of other novels. The book managed to keep my attention throughout the whole story and even when my suspicions got confirmed towards the end, I still kept reading and rightly so, cause it held some surprises still.

The main character, Farden, is quite a bitter man and tends to act like an ass. However, compared to other characters with the same personality, I didn’t find Farden to be annoying or tiring whatsoever. I don’t really like him as a person, but I do like him as main character, if that makes any sense. Apart from Farden, I really took a liking to the dragons and I found the bonds between them and the Siren very fascinating. While I’m hot nor cold regarding Durnus and Elessi, I hope that they get some more time on page the next time around, for I do think they have potential to become quite interesting sidekicks to Farden. This is perhaps the ‘major’ issue I had with this book. The side characters just fell a bit flat, with the exception of Farfallen and Svarta. I would have liked some more in depth info on or interaction with the others. Speaking of the side characters, I liked how the world of Emaneska was richly populated by different species, but never felt overcrowded to me. Also a certain plus is the history of the world, which gave it all some depth. Hopefully the history of the land will be unveiled some more in the books to come.
Seeing as this is a debut novel, I was pleasantly surprised with the writing, cause despite the odd typo I found this to be a very pleasant and fluent read. The book starts with the theft and accompanying murders, after which there is a nice balance between action and the slower parts. As I mentioned earlier, I bought this book on a whim and only read some reviews after finishing, so I was quite surprised when I saw the critiques on the writing. Perhaps it’s due to me not being a native English speaker, but the writing never felt unhinged or forced to me, nor did the use of ‘all of a sudden’ and ‘suddenly’ bother me, as reviews on GoodReads tend to go on about – and I have not the slightest clue about why it should bother anyone, to be completely honest. Aside from that, I’m not one to make issues out of spelling where others - again, I'm looking at you, GoodReads reviewers - seem to have issues with the author having some fun with spelling. So as far as I’m concerned, Mr. Galley can spell Vampyre any which way he wants - even more so: Durnus simply deserves a 'y' instead of the 'i' other bloodsuckers are getting, just because. All in all, seeing as this is a debut and he will grow in his writing even more so, The Written only bodes well for the future.

So while I may have bought this purely based on the cover, I was pleasantly surprised by the actual novel. Seduced by the looks and charmed by the content, The Written was a very pleasing experience and if he keeps it up, Ben Galley might as well turn out to be the major discovery of 2013. Nice making your acquaintance, Ben and Farden. See you next time around.
Since The Written managed to tick off almost every box I wanted it to, I can't but give it a very hot rating.
Buy The Written at The Book Depository.


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