A book review is the greatest gift a reader can give to an author, especially to an indie author. A couple of lines and a handful of stars can elate a writer one loves; apathy can end that same writer’s career.
Recently, I had a bit of trouble. Almost two-thirds of my first novel’s customer reviews disappeared from a major book distribution site; the reviews slipped into oblivion with no explanation. I contacted the distributor and got an explanation.
They blamed the reviewers for not following their guidelines; they blamed me for not telling the reviewers, whom I do not know personally, to follow their guidelines. Mind you, these reviews had been perfectly acceptable to them for longer than a month. Suddenly, they were not.
What am I to do? How can I turn this around? I can’t restore my novel’s reviews; they are gone. I can, however, safeguard here my own book review of another independent author’s novel.
The first novel in Brian Rathbone’s World of Godsland series, Call of the Herald, is a young adult fantasy phenomenon. Caitrin Volker is an adolescent girl who lives with her father on a farm on the small continent of Godfist. Caitrin’s life has its ups and downs. Her friends and family are loving and kind; her rivals and bullies are cruel and callous.
From across the sea, the vast continent of Greatland’s massive naval force begins its crossing to the Godfist. The Herald has returned to the world of Godsland, and Greatland must take action or suffer the outcome of a dire prophecy.
This novel, once I picked it up, drew me into Brian Rathbone’s vibrant fantasy world. The locations are described beautifully, and the action is detailed vividly. Even the non-human characters have real personality. This world is populated, alive. When I arrived in the world of Godsland, I was immersed in the narrative scene by scene.
Brian Rathbone’s use of shifting viewpoints can be a bit of a reading hurdle. He uses scene cliffhangers then addresses another part of the grand epic before returning to resolve the previous dramatic scene. Call of the Herald reads like an action-packed film or television episode, and I believe it would translate well into those visual mediums. While split narrative can be jarring to some readers, others will enjoy this storytelling device. The entire novel still holds together; it is a complete and engaging story.
I also was troubled by Caitrin’s melodramatic episodes, and I sometimes did not find her speech organic to her character. However, I considered that Caitrin was already enduring a difficult adolescence before she was suddenly overwhelmed by a power no one knew how to control. It’s plausible that she would adopt what she assumed were the proper tones and actions of her new role. She evolves through a life stage as she evolves as a character; I believe her dual journey will be compelling to empathetic and sympathetic young adult readers. Despite her many tearful outbursts, Caitrin is a hero who shines in adversity. Her strong personality comes to the fore consistently during the novel’s action sequences.
Call of the Herald is obviously the first novel in a series, yet its story stands alone within that series. The novel has a rich story arc which is resolved at the end. While it introduces us to an epic fantasy world and leaves series story arc threads unresolved, those threads firmly weave this first book into the rest of the series. The writing is intelligent, and the novel was edited into a beautifully-finished product. Call of the Herald balances the drama of epic fantasy with the silliness of real life as Caitrin matures from girl to woman and from an unknown every-person into a nascent epic hero. I look forward to reading its sequel, Inherited Power.
A Five-Star YA fantasy read.
Call of the Herald is the first book in the Dawning of Power trilogy and the first in the World of Godsland series. It is available in print, on ebook, and in audio format.