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Review of The Unbound Man by Matt Karlov

Review of The Unbound Man by Matt KarlovThe Unbound Man by Matt Karlov
Series: The Undying Legion
on 2014-09-04
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Pages: 512


In a land of merchant companies, printing presses, gunpowder and sorcery, Arandras Kanthesi once worked alongside the gifted and powerful, hunting down artefacts of the glorious past and teasing out their secrets. Then an unknown assailant murdered his wife, and his world fell apart.

Now, at last, he has a lead.

But pursuing his quarry means joining forces with the Quill, the order of sorcerers and scholars Arandras abandoned after his wife’s death. And the Quill’s help never comes without a price.

In his hunt for the killer, Arandras stumbles across a relic of a long-dead empire, one that could lead to a weapon of enormous power. Caught between his former colleagues and his wife’s murderer in a race for the lost weapon, Arandras must decide what he values most: revenge, the lives of those he once called friends, or the fate of a world he no longer cares for.

This teetered on the edge between really liking it to being indifferent. The reason I bumped it up was because I enjoyed the author’s voice and the overall story. The reason it almost kept me at indifferent was because of the sheer amount of detail in the book, especially scene setting. I don’t need a lot of action—although I do enjoy it—but I need slow scenes to move faster. These just had a lot of detail that really didn’t add much to the story, in my opinion. I like short descriptions; just a sentence here and there. Too much and I’ll start skimming, which is what ended up happening. For those who like descriptions, you’ll settle right into this book.

At the beginning of each chapter, there were small excerpts from history books or a saying here and there. I actually looked forward to each new chapter so could I read them. Here’s one of my favorites:
“Curse the gods if you must, but do it on your horse.”

The characters were well developed, rounded with both admirable qualities and flaws, and even the bad guy was actually interesting. Arandras had the most qualities I look for in a character; an internal struggle to overcome a horrific incident from his past. Unfortunately, even with as promising as the characters were, I just couldn’t get that engrossed in the book. All the scene setting kept pulling me out of the story and my mind wandered often. It’s just my own personal hang-up, one that I vehemently wish I could change.

This book has a lot of what I’ll call discovery. The characters are learning, unraveling mysteries, researching, and plotting. There’s not a ton of action in the first 3/4 of this book, and I wouldn’t have minded the slower beginning if I had been obsessed. But because I wasn’t, I wanted more action or less description. So without those, I struggled through a large chunk of the book. But the story itself was engaging. It revolves around learning the history behind a specific urn that has been found. There are three story lines (3 main characters) that connect wonderfully and each have their own mysteries to solve and their own agendas to satisfy. I will say the prologue was one of my favorite parts to read.

Another bonus was the writing itself. It flowed wonderfully, and during those interesting parts, I slipped into my reading trance. Karlov definitely has a smooth prose and I really enjoyed his writing.

So overall, I think if one likes description and can handle a slower beginning, they should definitely check out this book. For those of you unsure, take a look at the first chapter—not the prologue—and you’ll get a good feel for the writing and pacing.

About Matt Karlov

Like every child, Matt Karlov was raised on stories of the impossible, from the good parts of Sesame Street, to The Hobbit, to Watership Down and beyond. As Matt grew older, he had the good fortune to retain his taste for the fantastic, which soon developed into a deep love of speculative fiction in its many guises. He has been struggling to make room on his shelves for new books ever since.

Matt has been a software designer, a web developer, and a business analyst. He lives in Sydney, Australia. The Unbound Man is his first novel.

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