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Indie Challenge 1 – The Avatar of Calderia

Indie Challenge 1 – The Avatar of CalderiaAwakenings by David M. Echeandia
Series: The Avatar of Calderia #1
on 2013-12
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 376

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In old KalDathia, a frightened king makes a fateful mistake that spells his country's doom and unleashes an ancient and terrible scourge upon the land. Beset by barbarian invaders, he Awakens a legendary hero known as Rakkoth, the Sleeping Savior, not knowing that the Savior is, in truth, a Dark sorcerer who nearly destroyed the world with his black arts before being cast into ensorcelled slumber eight centuries ago. Once revived, this sadistic sorcerer seizes power, conquers an entire continent, and forges an empire built on blood and death. Meanwhile, across the Luminous Sea in the Kingdom of Calderia, Crown Prince Killian grows to manhood, unaware that he carries within him a seed of divine power instilled by the gods. This power has been gifted to a mortal once in each generation against the time of Rakkoth's return-and must now be Awakened, if Calderia has any hope of prevailing against the evil emperor who has turned his malevolent gaze upon Killian's homeland as his next conquest. But to do so, the human prince must help to forge an alliance with other warring nations and races of Balleterria, including his blood enemies, the Elves, and their warrior princess, Ellianthia, who would sooner slit his throat and watch him die than join with him in common cause. Somehow, these sworn foes must refrain from killing each other long enough to learn how to work together, gathering other companions along the way as they undertake a long and perilous journey to solve an age-old mystery, find a magic talisman, seek out a lost mage, and save their world from descent into oblivion.

First, the disclaimers:

1. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
2. Reading is subjective. This is just my opinion.

I’m confused. I’ll say that from the start. I’m confused cause I’m not a 100% sure how I really felt about this book. This review might reflect my puzzled state, so bear with me. And, honestly, this went from 2 stars to 4 stars back to 2 then to 3 and up to 4 and back to 2. Confused? Join the club.

I enjoyed the actual writing. I know that might be weird for some, but it was easy to read. Not in a simple way or dumbed down way. The sentences flowed brilliantly in a relaxing prose that I quite enjoyed. I would have lost myself completely except…

And herein comes my bafflement. I hate to say, but a lot of this book felt like a prologue. I wasn’t there in the story during several chunks. It was like I was being told what was happening instead of immersing me into the scene. Some parts were brilliant, and I think that’s why I had such a hard time with it. When it came to Reagen, each scene with him was what I would have preferred. I was there. I felt his sadness, sat at the table with Doughal and him, listened to the banter, and understood the interaction of soldiers. It made me want to be there all the time. Opposite from those scenes were chapters like Rak’koth taking over Surrikand where the whole time it read exactly like a prologue to me. Then there were chapters that fell in the middle of all that. They didn’t immerse me, but they didn’t read like a prologue.

Now, all that being said, I’m excited for the second book. I’m curious what happens. And that says a lot because–as anyone who follows my reviews will know–I’m a character reader and I wasn’t latched on to any one character in this book. Killian and Ellie are probably the ones I hope to connect more with in book 2. With all the backstory set and the plot for book 2 well on its way, I hope I can connect with them more.

I actually found Ellie to be interesting. She’s tough, but has a very sensitive side. I’m curious if Echeandia can keep her character strong in book 2 and not turn her into a damsel if she falls in love (which, unfortunately happens to a lot of strong female characters).

I’ll mention this next part just as an FYI. It didn’t bother me in the least, but I know it might some. This is an ADULT book that is sexually heavy. There is rape. There is sex….several of such scenes I found very well written while others…meh.

Lastly (and of pure personal taste), this book was too descriptive for me. I’m not a fan. A paragraph or two should set the scene for my tastes, but Echeandia was thorough in his descriptions which I found myself skimming regularly. Let me inform any skimmers and anti-description readers that it is very easy to skim those sections and not lose a thing from the plot or story. Echeandia, whether by accident or on purpose, set up descriptions in consecutive paragraphs that are easy to bypass. Nothing major is hidden in them. So, Mr. Echeandia, I thank you for that.

I know I’ve said a lot of negative things about this book, but I want to finish with one sentence that sums up how I feel. I will, I repeat, WILL buy the second book.

My ramblings are done.

About David M. Echeandia

I was raised on the East Coast, enduring the freezing winters and loving New York pizza by the slice, the kind you fold in half and start eating with the hot melted cheese dripping down into your mouth. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted, hands down. After being stationed in the San Francisco Bay area while in the Army, I decided to remain in California, where college and grad school tuition was cheaper and the climate more temperate. Now a psychologist, I live here in the sun with my wife and daughter, an elderly Maltese, a brawny Pekingese, and a voracious cat that eats more than both dogs combined. I don’t really regret leaving the snow and the cold behind, but I do still miss the pizza.

I have been enamored with science fiction/fantasy since I was (as my Georgia-born southern grandmother used to say) “knee-high to a grasshopper.” Truly, I could open a used bookstore stocked with nothing but the stacks and boxes of books that I own in the genre, some going way back. Thank the gods for ebooks, because I ran out of room to store the hard copy collection many moons ago. My early loves were authors like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Ursula K. Le Guin. More recent influences include R.A. Salvatore, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Raymond Feist and Jacqueline Carey, among many others.

I enjoy reading, RPG video games, canning homegrown fruits for preserves, old time radio, more reading, and attending Highland Games festivals (the “M” in my name is for McMaster, after my Scotch-Irish ancestors on my mother’s side). In my more extravagant days, I actually had a kilt custom-made in Scotland that was based on the McMaster clan tartan. It’s quite beautiful, though all that wool is very heavy. I’ve been promising to learn how to play “Scotland the Brave” on the bagpipes for too long to take myself seriously anymore, but perhaps one day…

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