For the first few months of 2021, we here at TheShortStoryTeller are planning to read works of fantasy, both mainstream and independently published, as our favorite little trickster gets himself into magical mischief.
When we first began soliciting books to review, one of the first authors to contact us was Pemry Janes, asking us to review The Living Sword. We were excited to start our review services with his fantasy novel.
And I must say, I really enjoyed reading this book. Keep scrolling to find out why!
The Fantasy Genre—Thrill of Discovery
As we read and review fantasy books during this period, we are approaching each story with this core philosophy:
The primary attraction of fantasy stories is to give the reader the thrill of new discovery without the rigors of academia.
Fantasy offers new worlds to explore, history to discover, culture and civilizations and fantastic beasts, and above all a brand new science with brand new rules; and the reader is now the Magellan, the Einstein, the Howard Carter.
A good fantasy story should spread out this discovery, keeping a consistent pace throughout the exposition. The discoveries should make sense to the reader, even if fantastically impossible, and they should always relate back to the plot later in the book.
So, how did The Living Sword meet this requirement?
A Lot to Discover
The Living Sword is a relatively short book, but jam-packed with exposition.
The first chapter is heavily seasoned with italicized terms, which means that the reader is learning new and foreign terms. There are so many that I can’t even remember them all for this review.
One of the simpler ones is called chiri, and it seems to be the connection between people and the basic environmental elements. The main character, Eurik, is a skilled practitioner of manipulating the element of Earth.
Although I’m not a die-hard fan of The Last Airbender, I think I saw some influences in this book. Chiri-powers seemed to be activated by choreographed physical movements, like meditative martial arts.
It was certainly fun to explore and discover Eurik’s abilities. At least, it was great while his powers remained consistent and rational. But…
When The Magic Becomes Too Much
In the second half of the book, this Earth-manipulating chiri turns into a magnetic superconductor.
Eurik begins throwing armored soldiers around like dolls. He picks a lock by magnetically manipulating the tumblers. He has omniscient knowledge of his surroundings because of vibrations in the stone floors.
You’d think he was invincible at this point. But…
When The Magic Becomes Too Little
Throughout the book, Eurik insists that chiri is not magic.
But in the climactic final battle, when he fights an enemy immune to magic, he finds that his chiri is also ineffective. Whoopsie.
Not only is his chiri ineffective, but at one point he uses his power to lift a stone and throw it at the enemy. This is also ineffective. But why would a thrown rock be thwarted by magical immunity?
These kinds of inconsistencies and illogical developments were minor, but still present in the story.
Great Action, Great Characters, and Much More to Explore
Despite the little inconsistencies, I really enjoyed watching Eurik learn and practice his abilities. I’m sure future books in this series will develop these powers even further.
The main characters were relatable and interesting. They had motivations and personality. The primary antagonist was perhaps a little unconvincing, but his appearance is brief at the end.
The action scenes were engrossing and intense. I’m looking forward to more of the same in sequels to this book.
And so far, the world of The Living Sword is relatively unexplored and unexplained. There’s a lot more to discover, and I hope the author, Pemry Janes, continues to deliver.
The Recommendation: 4 / 5 Stars.
The Living Sword was a fast-paced, intriguing fantasy novel. The magic and mystery were very interesting, and only sometimes slightly overwhelming or illogical. As the first book in a series, it shows a lot of promise.
I recommend giving it a try. And stay tuned for Sparrow’s next book, which will also be an exciting, magic-packed fantasy adventure!