Continuing with the new series of Book Review features, I bring you the first of my aforementioned foolish decisions regarding blog tours (okay, so that’s facetious. Blog tours are awesome, and I’m honored to be a part of one. 🙂 ) See? I even have proof:
Isn’t that image lovely? Here, I’ll show it to you again in its full glory, followed by my review:
by James Wymore
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
A man wakes on a frozen battlefield when a scavenging couple finds him among the dead. As they nurse him back to health, he is struck with the horrible realization he can’t remember who he is or anything about his past. Taken in by the kind pair, he begins helping with their farm. She even takes him to meet her family, especially her single sister. The ideal life offered in the high mountains of Winigh is shattered when he sees a transport bringing enemy monsters to the shores below. Cut off by high snow on the pass, their fate will soon be the same as the town his company failed to protect in the last battle, if this estranged soldier cannot help them fight off the next wave of invaders. Even worse, the people of the town don’t trust this Selene soldier. He has a strange resistance to their folk magic which some say make him as dangerous as the enemies preparing to destroy them.
Okay, let me first start by saying that I stumbled on this in a Goodreads ad initially (so if there are any authors reading this, apparently they do work, somewhat 😉 ). The cover art instantly caught my attention, and it had been a while since I’d found a good traditional fantasy, so I was intrigued. Listed as an epic fantasy, Salvation has everything you’d expect from the genre — a hero who is, well, heroic; large-scale battles that embody the definition of “epic”; and even a touch of romance.
The story starts with a soldier, wounded and barely alive, being found by scavengers searching the battlefield for useful materials. The older couple take the man in and nurse him back to health, naming him “Elwood” when it becomes apparent his lost memories will not return. Elwood embraces his new life, settling in to the simpler life of a farmer. Macey, his now adopted mom-type figure, even sets him up with her younger sister and romance blooms.
But peace and serenity aren’t in his future for long. The Hyzoi — an armored race of mermen — are gearing up to attack the small, isolated village Elwood now calls home, and he’s the only one who can help save the people who once saved him. But only if the people of Winigh decide to trust him.
Overall, this is a good story, and it had massive potential to be great. The cultures and world are unique and well-crafted; I especially enjoyed the new take on magic (which I won’t spoil because that would ruin it for you). I thought the action sequences were solid, and the descriptions of the food and gore interestingly detailed. But unfortunately, there were also quite a few things that pulled this one down, ruining my ability to become fully immersed in the story. I hate to say it, but it felt like an unedited manuscript to me.
Some of the worst offenders were:
- Head-hopping: the story is told in what should be 3rd person limited, with Elwood being the POV character. But routinely, we are shown inside the thoughts/actions of the other characters, within the same paragraph and sometimes even the same sentence as Elwood’s perspective. I tried to give the author the benefit of the doubt and thought perhaps he was trying for 3rd person omniscient, but at the end of the day, it simply didn’t really work in either, living awkwardly somewhere in between.
- The prose is littered with errors: tense problems, grammar issues (commas especially were misplaced and used inconsistently, making me wonder which style guide the editor was using on this…), and typos/incorrect words (ex: “heard” vs. “herd”). Some people may be able to look past these, but I found it distracting. And I read unedited manuscripts for a living.
- Choppy timeline: there isn’t really any sense of flow between the chapters. Often, each chapter or even scene felt like it was written as a stand-alone episode, like a cut-scene in a video game. The transitions were abrupt, and we jump through so much time in the first few chapters that I lost all sense of timeline. This did seem to work itself out, a little, later in the book, but I felt like many places could have been expanded, which would have resulted in a richer experience for the reader. I would almost characterize the plot as reminiscent of film — fast-paced and full of “fade-to-black” transitions.
I don’t like to solely supply the negative facets of my experience though, so before I wrap this up, I want to point out the good. Wymore has massive potential as a writer, and I definitely look forward to more from him in the future. Salvation is a fresh infusion to the genre and featured many intriguing elements. I enjoyed the mystery of Elwood’s real identity, and actually think that’s the aspect that kept me reading most. Like my fellow reviewers, I figured it out well before the characters did (so perhaps the foreshadowing could have been toned down a little to prolong that element), but I still felt that character arc was one of the strongest.
My overall impression is that of a book that maybe could have been absolutely amazing in the hands of a different editor. Wymore definitely has the talent, it just needed to be cultivated and polished a little bit more.
**Disclosure Statement: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **