Available 1 Nov 2016
Legalities first: I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
First off, let me state this is a first novel by a young man who has a great future ahead of him in the wonderful world of fiction writing. At least, I hope he does. Secondly, he sorely needs an editor and formatter.
That being said, perhaps I should state I read his book, undoubtedly an early version, on my Android phone. Some of the formatting issues may be the phone, and hopefully, the other issues will be corrected before the book is released to the market. Lines did not wrap as they should have. Some of the paragraphs had double spaces between them; some did not. Some of the paragraphs had double spaces within them; most did not.
If a paragraph began with a TH word, ie The, There, etc., it was more often than not shown with a space after the "Th" as "Th e" and several cases of a double 'ff' word had the odd space before the 'ff' such as "o fficial." There were a few times when words mid paragraph had hyphens in them that did not belong, ie, "off-cial."
There were, by far, too many 'A---' names. There were at least 6—possibly more, including the hero's. The hero should have been the only one.
I read a lot of fantasy (most, but not all, of the fiction I read is fantasy) so I'm fairly used to strange and odd words and their usage, but I want it to be consistent. If one is going to go for the cute and use directions such as "eastsouth" and "westnorth," then be consistent in the usage. Stone used as mishmash of standard "southeast" and cute "eastsouth." It didn't work for me. His use of caps was not consistent.
Any writer who sends me to the dictionary to learn a new word, gets big points from me. Stone did that. Alas, the new word was used incorrectly within the story. Pleach is a term for arborists, not hammocks. Hammocks are tied, knotted, tatted, and or crocheted. Unless made out of canvas, in which case they are woven.
Another incorrectly used word was supple. It was such a shock, I had to go to the dictionary, again, to verify if he was right and I was wrong. Nope. The other way around. Supple means to move easily and gracefully, to be flexible. Fingers can be supple, a spine can be supple, but according to my dictionaries a breast or chest are not. Breasts are primarily fatty tissue, and a female warrior, or one skilled in the martial arts, or ballet dance, will have no body fat, and therefore small, hard breasts. By the way, the word "warrioress" doesn't work for me, either.
There were a lot of run-on words, and many that should have been hyphenated and weren't. I hope those will be picked up prior to publication release. There were spaces between quotes and words.
And, my final nit: Is the Illusive Diamond a catamaran? Does she have two hulls? I ask because at one point the port, or perhaps starboard, bow struck the dock. Or was it the port or perhaps starboard side that struck the dock?
Now to the actual review!
Stone has done a marvelous job of world building. If I didn't think he did a good job, I would not have spent the time on all the above nits.
Aleksi, our Hero, is on a quest, and it is an epic one. He was born with a rune in his hand, and if he doesn't learn to control it, it will control him, and kill him. At this point in his life, it is growing, and consuming him, but he needs to find his old Master to learn how to control it. His old Master has been sent away, we're never sure exactly why, but it's easy enough to figure out—those who wish the power Aleksi will come into, want to control him. And most of them want to control him for evil.
While the story itself is not all that original, the characters are. The writing is solid; the world is fantastic (and isn't that what we want in a fantasy?). I thought the beginning a bit much on background, and then figured out he's setting up a series. And he is. This is book #1 (Had I read the fine print on the small cover, I would have seen that!) and I do look forward to book #2.
This book ends at a good place. While it is not a cliff-hanger ending, it has an open ending, that may or may not be resolved in book #2. Stone has introduced us to Good and Evil, has given them form and function, and put them on a marvelous world. I look forward to the next installment.
Do I recommend this book? Yes, but read it knowing it is a first novel, and at least the copy I read needs editing. There is violence but it is germane to the story, not gratuitous. There is talk of rape, at one point, but again, it was germane to the story.