16 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Rating: 5 out of 5
Oh, how much I love the melding of genres. To mix and match different aspects of specific literary tropes and use them to tell a truly original and captivating tale can be a wonderful thing to experience, when executed correctly. It then becomes nothing but a story, allowing the reader to concentrate on the strength of the tale being told rather than if they followed all the requisite "rules" ascribed to said genre - ala, in the case of fantasy, the use of magic, mystical beasts, and world-building.
This all brings us to Cadman's Gambit: Shader Book I by D.P. Prior, a novel that now holds a place in my heart as the most perfect introductory novel to a series I've ever read, surpassing the previous champion, The Gunslinger.
In truth, there are quite a few similarities between Prior's book and the seminal work of King. We follow a gruff, old, and cranky warrior (Roland and Shader), travel along a path in search of an object of untold power (the Rose and the statue of Eingana), and there are remnants of an advanced, ancient civilization lurking beneath the surface of both worlds.
This is where the comparison ends, however. While The Dark Tower chronicles the journey of a single man and his quest for absolution, in Shader we're presented with a much larger, more universal plight - the elevation of man into a place of honor within the universe. It's a rather lofty goal that Prior has saddled himself with, and one he's amazingly able to pull off.
In Cadman's Gambit we're introduced, in different flashbacks and wild, swashbuckling tales, to the main character, Deacon Shader. But in almost every way, Shader is overshadowed by the complexity, originality, and turmoil of the world he exists in. This is a version of Earth that has gone far beyond us - 900 years since the end of "civilization as we know it", pretty much - and there are mystical, as well as scientific, wonders drifting about. There are individuals who have lived for centuries, galactic warlords on the quest for universal domination, and many questions pertaining to the nature of existence, including time, itself. Religion is widely discussed, and even ridiculed, in fact becoming the one uniting and divisive cog in the machine, echoing that fact that though society as we know it has moved on, humans remain humans, whether they ascribe to a Christian derivative, a pagan understanding, immerse themselves in Platonic doctrine, or a combination of all three.
But more than anything else, Cadman's Gambit is the story of man's quest for immortality. Every major character either desires it - in spirituality or actuality - or already has tasted a hint of it. It is one of the saddest theological plotlines I've come across, and each key player is, in their own way, selfish to a fault. In an existence where death is all around them, in the form of plague or warfare or strange, bio-engineered beasts, rather than trying to survive, they attempt to cheat death.
Which is why Deacon Shader, the warrior monk (and how great of a contradiction is that?), means so much to the story. He is flawed, cranky, violent, and stubborn, a man set in his ways who wants to change but can't. Because of this, he reflects each and every person I've ever known...though he's way cooler, and stronger, than the average man. Let's just call him an "ideal human," which is a fantastic description because of how imperfect he is. Prior has definitely created a conundrum of a story here, and he couldn't have chosen a better figurehead to anchor it.
The mystery in the tale abounds. What's up with the hidden, underground tunnels? What's a "technocracy?" Why do so many people, when exposed to the deity-like entities (or are they?) that save the world from itself, end up living pretty much forever? He also has the courage to introduce magic, only to pull back and suggest, in a brilliant piece of storytelling, that there's no such thing as magic at all. Just like the rest of the story, it's a grand negation, and one that can make a reader's head spin...in a good way, of course.
There is more than theory and world-building at work here. There is actual emotion and real, honest-to-goodness human relationships. Shader's love for the girl he can't have, his understudy's obsession with the same, a dwarf named Shadrach's fixation on the woman who would be his mother, the religious elite's love of Ain, their godhead, or Dr. Cadman's (the main antagonist) love of, well, himself. I don't want to spoil anything here, but let's just say Cadman is a near-flawless villain. You'll love him.)
The fight scenes in this book are extremely well executed, even if they may be few and far between. Just like everything else at work here, this is a contradiction, for the action acts as a break in the dialogue and philosophic musings instead of the other way around, which is usually the case. Also, there are little Easter eggs thrown in for those of us who still exist in the 21st century, as some of the "immortal" characters reflect upon events and locales from their past, letting we the readers know that, yes, this strange land was once not only very much like ours, but was ours.
Oh, and I'd be remiss to say that, for the first time ever, the map at the beginning of the book was not only well-made, but necessary to the plot! Go figure. I've always been one to never look at them, thinking them superfluous. Not here, my friends. No, if it weren't for that map, I would've been lost.
In fact, I can say in all honesty that the only thing I think might hold this novel back is the fact it's almost too smart for its own good. The language is dense, the plot sometimes convoluted. You really have to read each and every word, to take in each minute detail presented, to truly understand what you're reading. I think there may be some folks who may not appreciate it, though there's nothing wrong with that.
I, on the other hand, loved it. Cadman's Gambit is a work of pure intellect, taking the best facets of fantasy, science fiction, and philosophy, and mixing it all together into a genus all its own. It's surprisingly humorous at times, and the Kantian undertones of consciousness as it relates to time and space resounded with me greatly. I couldn't put it down, though I took my time with it, wanting to bathe myself in every word, every turn of a phrase.
Yup, that's right. My Year's Best list just had a new book jump to the top. D.P. Prior's book is that good. He has a lot to say, and one hell of a story to tell. In my opinion, you should take him up on that journey. Now.
Plot - 10
Characters - 10
Voice - 10
Execution - 10
Personal Enjoyment - 10
Overall - 50/50 (5.0/5)
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Sword of the Archon (Shader #1) by D.P. Prior is one of the best self-published fantasy that I’ve stumbled upon. Not to say that it is perfect, because nothing is ever without flaws. It is, however, a dynamic work of genre bending scifi, fantasy and horror that immediately brings to mind Stephen King’s seminal work: The Gunslinger, with its post-apocalyptic world, mysterious ruins of an advanced civilization, its mystical elements, and a main character in Shader who is just as gruff, haunted, and jaded as Roland Deschain.
The story is set in post-apocalyptic Australia, where a terrible cataclysm ended the technological society of the ancients and ushered in a new millennium built upon medieval tools, religion, mythology and magic. But the world never stops changing, and old evils never seem to truly die. So when someone begins uncovering and using the pieces of an ancient relic of power, the wise immediately suspect the return of the Technocrat.
But who is this person?
Sketis Gandaw (a.k.a. The Technocrat) was the foremost scientist that ancient mankind ever produced; a brilliant man who conquered the world through the power of his technological wonders, the money of his worldwide corporations, and the desires of the population to believe in no power greater than their own human logic. Once, the Earth lay at his feet, however, Sektis realized that mankind and the universe itself were flawed – not fit to survive; the very haphazard evolution of life from a big bang beginning the cause of this imperfect nature. And since the universe was not “designed” by some higher power to be imperfect for a reason, Sektis logically decided that it was a mistake that he (the pinnacle of evolution) must correct by “uncreating” everything and unleashing a new creation of mathematical perfection.
In this endeavor, Sektis came tantalizing close before he was stopped. So close, in fact, that the resulting backlash of the Technocrats defeat destroyed the ancient world. But no one is sure that Sektis actually died in the chaos. There are myths that he used his technological prowess to escape to another world and is merely waiting for a future time to return to Earth. And so, a few of the “wise” have ever been vigilant in watching for signs of his return. They have planned for it and even reared heroes to confront Sektis if he ever returns.
Deacon Shader is the latest of these unknowing guardians of the world; he is a warrior monk, trained by powers he didn’t understand to wield the Sword of the Archon and bloodied in the horrible wars against the undead armies of the Liche Lord Blightey. The only problem is that Deacon is a man of mighty paradoxes; one who wishes to live a peaceful existence without a sword in his hand but finds himself always resorting to violence to protect his beliefs of love; a man of the cloth who readily acknowledges that he has grown to have doubts about his own faith. But with the Sword of the Archon in his hands and a desire for peace in his heart, Deacon Shader finds himself unwillingly placed upon a path to confront the Technocrat -- if he has indeed returned.
From this great setup, Mr. Prior weaves a story upon the richly varied post-apocalyptic world he has created. And what a world it is! Shader’s Earth is a complex society, filled with interesting characters, a mix of both science and magic, and ripe for pulse-pounding adventure. Religion is a big part of everyday life, whether it is Shader’s devotion to it or others ridicule for it. And mysteries abound. Who is the technocrat really? How was the ancient world destroyed? What are the hidden, metallic tunnels? Why does it seem that several people have lived for nearly a thousand years? How did magic spring to existence on the Earth? So many mysteries, in fact, that it drives a curious reader to delve deep into the narrative for small clues.
The only thing that did not work for me in this novel was the love story of Shader and Rhiannon. While the romantic relationship is in the past as the story begins, these two have zero chemistry – which just didn’t ring true. Even if their involvement was over, there would still be some lingering attachment or unfinished emotions, but here the majority of their interactions are so negative that you wonder how they could have ever spoken to one another, much less been in love – or lust – with one another. It just didn’t work at all for me, which was a major setback since this romantic attraction drove a good bit of Shader’s story.
All in all, I really enjoyed Sword of the Archon. It had fights, intriguing characters, humor, and a very believable religious character and his struggle with his own faith. When I said earlier that this novel was one of the best indie fantasy I’ve read, I meant it. Sure, there are times when the narrative drags or the characters’ interaction do not work, but overall, this beginning novel of the Deacon Shader Saga was a fun ride. One that I enjoyed so much that I moved on to the second book in the series almost immediately, which isn’t something I always do, and I encourage you to jump on this ride and see if the journey is to your liking as well.