Shadow’s Rise – Return of the Cabal
Chronicles of the Fists #1
Joseph J. Bailey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
From the description, I was kind of hoping for a book along the vein of Way-farer. And I LOVE that book and re-read it. Way-farer is martial arts and zen.
And this is what I thought this was going to be. So I dl’d the sample from amazon and jumped right in. So everything that follows is from the sample only. The first 5 or 6 chapters I believe.
My first, very charitable thought, was that Bailey was trying to emulate Patricia A. McKillip with her lyrical, almost poetical style of prose.
The potential, the interrelationships, the interconnectivity, and individuation all commingled in a great sea of light scintillating beneath the sun.
The problem is, this verbose, florid overuse of descriptive wordiness continued on for the whole book. McKillip is a master, while Bailey sounded like a rank amateur.
Word craft. Lots of words are used that I had to go look up. And all were technically correct. But they tended to be ‘archaic’ forms of other words we already use:
aeryasynthetic [I could NOT find that one. If you know of a link to a definition, I’d appreciate it]
The above words, and others, were used, it seemed, not so much as to make the story better but more along the lines of a little boy waving his shiny new trumpet hollering “look at me! I have a shiny trumpet!”.
…his head close enough to the beast’s…to smell the creature’s thick, unkempt rank
Just another example of things being slightly off. Hair can be unkept [unkempt is a slightly older version] and thick, but “rank” means smell. Just slightly too enthusiastic with describing things and not paying attention to the nuts and bolts of the story.
Which brings us to plot.
A monastary of super monks [who have been around, apparently, an age beyond description ] in touch with the lifeforce of creation itself is attacked and forced to move to another plane of existance. And our MC is left behind because he isn’t advanced enough to do the plane walking AND he wants to fight the badguys, who seem to be just “evil”.
a couple of questions immediately sprang to mind.
1) Why did all the supermonks, priests and other trainee’s leave? Wasn’t it their duty as well to stay and fight?
2) the monks appear to have “just begun their work” in the area, even though they’ve been there an age beyond description. Huh? Which is it?
3) MC isn’t well trained enough. But when he starts his journey/quest, all I heard about him from the author describes how he can “X, Y and Z” because of his many years of intense training. Our MC is apparently both a complete novice and a master. But you the reader will never know which one will be in control.
Then there are things that just didn’t make sense to me. MC is hiding from the Evil Guys, who can track his psychic footprint and his very life essense. So what does he do the first night out? Call out to his master in his dreams and have a long coversation with him.
Another time he is in a forest, and he starts “casting out his mind” to look for sentient beings so he can avoid them. Hello? Paint a target on yourself or something.
After surviving a poison forest [poison that is both magical and mundane but both and yet neither], he comes into contact with some Super Tree beings. Beings that were the teachers of the elves and have been hidden for eons and eons. Not only does he find them, but makes contact with them mentally, and avoids frying his brain because of all his years of mental training. A certain amount of serendipity I can take, but forcing my brain into a pretzel of unbelief doesn’t work for me.
Finally, Bailey can’t write an action scene to save his life. Well, technically, he can. Lots of “fast” and “jumping” and action words, but no real combat seems to take place. Kind of like “he moved real fast and hit the creature, who was jumping really high and the battle was over”, but in his verbose way of saying things. I got lots of descriptions of the MC waking up, trudging around and feeling all in touch with himself and nature, but when it came to things actually happening, Bailey drops the verbal ball.
So while I liked the idea put forth in the blurb, the verbosity, floridness and lack of good action scenes did this in for me.