Series: Tribesman #1
Banished from his homeland, a warrior of the Northern Clans grows weary of life in a harsh alien land. With the dark god Morrigu haunting his dreams, Culainn a warrior and champion sets forth on a journey north in search of a merchant's daughter abducted by clansmen. With a desert princess as a companion he will travel through a land baked by a scorching sun, where bandits roam free and dark beasts stalk the night.
An ancient evil is rising from the desert. A Benouin myth of a ghost city inhabited by the souls of their ancestors, a bridge to the Underworld is unleashing demonic creatures on an unsuspecting world. Culainn and Persha, warrior and mage stand alone against a tide of darkness. All the while, Morrigu, the dark war god of the north seeks to use Culainn as her own tool, her own champion.
This is one of those frustrating times when a book could have easily made it up a notch in my rating. It sat on the brink, tipping both ways, but in the end, it fell just a hair short. For the first quarter of the book, this was making its way into the I REALLY LIKED IT group. However, the further I read, the more I started losing interest.
First off, we’re introduced to the main character who just woke with a hangover. Immediately, I liked the Tribesman. He was a tough guy, picked on because of his race, and we were shown quickly that he’s not afraid of confrontation. I’m rubbing my hands together in excitement.
As I continued to read, I still liked our Tribesman, but when more characters were introduced, he started to fade. Reason? They allll talked the same. In the beginning, the landlady and a few ruffians had a lazy dialect. They used contractions, where our Tribesman did not. Cool, right? Well, that faded pretty quickly. Soon, the dialog just felt heavy, jerky, and kept me from getting into my beloved reading trance. It never bothered me that the Tribesman spoke formally. It gave him a unique voice in the beginning, but like I said, when others joined, he got drowned out. Seriously, that was my biggest beef. Towards the middle, it all began to run together. I missed that distinction I felt in the beginning. I understand not every word that can be a contraction should be a contraction, but when there’s a good chunk of dialog, it just doesn’t flow when everyone speaks stiffly.
There were some awesome fight scenes. Then there were some I was hugely disappointed in. First, Tribesman is a badass. I enjoyed it when we were fighting there with him, right in his mind. But then there were sections where a fight was coming, then all of sudden it was over. We were then told what happened. For example, bad group of guys were coming up the stairs and never saw their deaths. First guy fell with a dagger in his throat, second with a stab to the chest, and so on. For me, personally, I would have rather been with Tribesman as he did all this stuff, not seeing it from outside. I understand this is totally a personal preference. A lot of action scenes are written this way. But when Freeman gives me a taste of awesome action and then tosses me a scrap like that, I feel a little cheated.
Also purely personal tastes is my dislike for head hopping mid scene with no formal break. One minute I’m with Tribesman after a big fight, and then all of a sudden I’m with another character. It’s always jarring for me when this happens. I really prefer a break to show a PoV change.
One thing I very much enjoyed is that we stayed with our main character and his companion about 98% of the time. It kept me close to our Tribesman at a time I might have become bored if another storyline would have been introduced.
If you’re looking for a strong female character, don’t expect one here. Sure, she puts up a bit of fight, but she’s more looking to be rescued. Shame, because when I first met our female protagonist, I thought she’d end up being a bit tougher.
So overall, I never skimmed and read it in a single afternoon. I must say, it was a quick read. I enjoyed this book, but those few negatives kept me at a slight distance when there was every possibility to become hugely engrossed.
A couple cool excerpts:
“Heroes are simply frightened men with gods-luck who survive.”
“Fear has a smell, it is blood and shit and the piss of the man standing next to you, or maybe it is your own.”