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Review of The Hall of the Wood by Scott Marlowe

Review of The Hall of the Wood by Scott MarloweThe Hall of the Wood by Scott Marlowe
on February 6th 2015
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Pages: 327


Jerrick Bur returns to a home he does not recognize. The King’s Patrol has vanished. Their Hall stands empty. An invading army encroaches upon the fringes of the forest and folk whisper of a sitheri witch brewing evil from the darkest hollows.Once a patroller, always a patroller, and so Jerrick is duty-bound to investigate. He is joined by Kayra Weslin, knight errant, and her chronicler, Holly, who go to answer a plea for help from nearby Homewood. Along with Murik Alon Rinkres, an eslar sorcerer who harbors a secret purpose all his own, the four attempt to unravel the mystery of the missing patrollers. They soon find tales of their disappearance frighteningly untrue as they are forced to ally themselves with an evil far more deadly than any of the other adversaries facing them. ranger, witch, wizard, devil, demon, sword, sorcery, myth, legend, elves, elf, fae, ghost, gods, goddesses, dryad, goblin, fantasy, dark fantasy, mystery, deities, magic

If one were to look at my checklist of things I love in a book, this one would hit quite a few of them. One of the characters has gone through something traumatic and is trying to overcome it, there’s magic, there’s action, there’s animal interaction, and there’s nifty creatures. It’s basically about a small group that sets out to learn what is amiss at The Hall. It’s got a questy-type vibe to it, which I generally enjoy. So what went wrong?

I find that if I’m skimming a lot, there’s something that’s just not speaking to me. Unfortunately, that can be hard to pinpoint sometimes. For this book, I think it was an accumulation of things that ended up making this a run-of-the-mill story. Nothing stood out to boost this up in my rating. It was readable, but because of my pickiness, I just didn’t move past indifferent.

The major reason didn’t become apparent immediately. It slowly revealed itself over the first three chapters. It boiled down to either too much description for things I didn’t care at all about, or there’s too much summary where things could have been much more interactive. I felt like I was being told stuff way too often. Instead of giving me a conversation in dialog, there were several instances where the conversation was summarized as he said this, they all agreed, and then she said this and then he commented about that and so on. It continually pulled me out of the story. Because I was never grounded, the characters came across as forced. When you read a book at a distance, I think you notice things that you probably wouldn’t have if you had been entranced. Odd dialog can be digested without thought, whereas when you’re not invested, it becomes stilted.

I think—and obviously based on some of the reviews—that what bothered me will in no way bother some other readers. I am, self-admittedly, a finicky reader with a strong distastes for tiny details in descriptions. I don’t mind them occasionally, and sometimes they can really add to a story, but most of the time I’m just ready for things to move along. Especially early on in a book or series. If I can’t get invested enough in the characters, everything will stand out to me. Furthermore, summaries that draw out for paragraphs that have no impact on the story will yank me right out of my reading trance. So for those who can enjoy a story just for the story and not need to be crazy obsessed with characters, you’ll likely enjoy this book. For those character driven readers like me, I highly suggest reading the sample as far as you can.

So overall, this isn’t for everybody, but it has an interesting story idea and some fun creatures and fights. And it has a dog in the group, which I loved right off the bat. That interaction was done brilliantly.

About Scott Marlowe

Scott Marlowe’s arrival into the world on June 1, 1970 in Corpus Christi, Texas ended the Marlowe tradition of being born in New York City when, a year or so earlier, his parents moved the family to the Lone Star State. While ‘first generation Texan’ was a distinction Scott likely would have embraced as he grew into adulthood, he instead found himself moving over the next six years from Texas to Florida to Connecticut to California. He remained within the San Francisco area for some twenty odd years before one final move in 1997, of his own volition this time, brought him back to Texas for good.

Scott graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1994 with a degree in Computer Science Engineering and, in order to satisfy his need for all things literary, minors in English and Comparative Literature. He was also close to attaining a degree in English, but ultimately decided another year of schooling was not conducive to his sanity. A formative conversation with an English professor at the time helped Scott make this decision as it yielded an observation he remembers to this day: One does not need an English degree in order to write.

While fully investing himself in a career as a software engineer from the mid-90’s onward, Scott also founded Pegasus Online, an f/sf ezine at the forefront of the revolutionary wave of digital media, and his first professional writing submission, Of Rangers, Witches, and Grim Foretellings (which was a terribly written story about, you guessed it, rangers and witches), was published in the small press f/sf magazine, Realms. Scott continued to explore the short form before writing his first novel, The Hall of the Wood. It wasn’t long after that when Scott’s dual interests in technology and fantasy began to come together in his writing. Neither true fantasy nor science fiction, with plenty of steampunk-like elements throughout, no better description fits the content of these stories than steamfantasy. You can experience this blending of infernal machines, sorcery, and adventure in his ongoing Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name series.

When he’s not writing, Scott enjoys hitting the trails on his mountain bike or working outside around the house. He loves dogs, dark beer, and strong coffee.

Scott lives in Texas with his wife and two crazy dogs.

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