British-American author Michael Davies‘ first novel in his new “World of Pangea” trilogy: “Path of the Warrior” – out now via Inspire Fiction (ISBN# 1508638675)- blends elements of classic high fantasy with historical fiction in an exciting new presentation.
But how does World of Pangea: Path of the Warrior actually stack up?? Read on to find out!
(WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!)
Let’s just get the technical stuff out of the way here. So, let’s start with punctuation. It’s important. There were many places where comas where misplaced. This made for some pretty strange reading in places. Chapter breaks. Chapter breaks. Chapter breaks. There were so many places where a break was needed, yet the story trudged on through. Many chapters were without them. With the 11-point font (which wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes) a few more easily placed breaks wouldn’t have so amiss. Four simple words (and this goes for any writer out there) Hire. A. Good. Editor.
Seriously, that’s probably the single biggest problem with 90% of self-published and/or small press published books out there today. They lack a good editor. This book most certainly needed a better one.
Now, on to the story.
Never have I read someone so determined to be like Tolkien without wanting to fall into the Tolkien trap. Over descriptiveness! Davies tries to weave a Middle Earth-like realm, but falls just a bit short. Sure, some of his creatures are interesting, but their descriptions leave something to be desired. For example, the “behemoth” which sounds a lot like an ankylosaurus in that it’s large, has a hard back, and a club with spikes on it for a tail. So, it’s a dinosaur still alive in the time of man. Interesting. Then, there’s the Chanoth, which sounds like a melding of a horse (long mane and tail) with a deer (longer than a man but short, has two long curving horns) and a unicorn (the horns glow). Cute, but not overly impressive. It reminds me of something out of Greek mythology. Which, for the life of me, I can’t remember. Then, there’s the description of the forest. A bare minimum at best rather than the long rambling descriptions of Tolkien. I think Davies must’ve feared becoming too descriptive, so he described too little. Conversely, he spent entirely too much time describing the everyday life of the Silures, the Native American type of people that the story centers around. Way too much time on the subtle nuances of their culture. The first three chapters is dedicated to just them and their way of life, including some of their history and their customs. While I’m sure it might be fascinating to people who love cultural studies, it’s not going to hold the attention of many modern fantasy readers.
Let’s move on to the main character and his quest. Enter Idris, a member of the Demetae tribe of the Selures. We meet him when he turns sixteen and is about to undergo his right-of-man test. Frankly, I think Davies makes him too foolhardy and naïve during this test. He wants to attack a behemoth by himself, even though he knows it usually takes four or five full grown men to bring one down. Yet, this experienced hunter would be foolish enough to attempt it alone? His first night out, he falls asleep in a tree and barely escapes being eaten by a wild cat, which he wounds but does not follow to finish off. Instead, he falls back asleep until he is awoken by Davies’ version of an elf, the Estronaidd. Tall, lithe, immortal, with a sing song language and voices that soothe and are akin to birds. Their voices have healing properties, too. Sound familiar? For them, words are powerful instruments that force change upon the world, so they rarely speak unless they wish to change or shape something. They live in a hard to reach place that, if an unwanted or uninvited person tried to gain access to their stronghold, they would become confused and wander off in the direction they came. I think someone read “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as this sounds exactly like the enchantment used around the quidditch arena at the beginning of the book. Moving on.
Idris completes his quest with the help of the Estronaidd, and thus forms a lasting bond with them. He is now a man, his people travel to the frozen north for the winter (if it’s winter in the south, but it’s not frozen over, why travel to a frozen wasteland to hide from the winter?), from there, he goes to an island to train to be a warrior. Here he has a good showing as a can-do man. Gains distinction, blah blah blah. Then, WAR! Though, we’re not given the why until much later. Something about an ancient pact between the Silures and Osenu, their god. There’s a tale about blood mixing and some sacrificial alters that would spell the end of the world as they know it. An evil being from the east, named Shagah, wants to change the world into his own blah blah blah. You get the picture. Bad easterners want to destroy the good and innocent westerners. Basically, the Europeans versus the Native Americans but on a different planet.
It’s up to Idris, the Charnoth, and the Estronaidd to defeat the evil Shagah to save the planet and life as they know it. There’s mass genocide and only about 900 of his people escape to the home of the Estronaidd, which leaves me to wonder just how Davies plans on the next stage of his series. If almost all of the Silures are dead and their home is destroyed, just what does he leave himself to work with? There’s less of the Estronaidd and the Charnoth than there are of the Silures, and there’s only a hint of dissention from outlying peoples in the east. This leaves me with some hope for improvement for the rest of the series. – and AGAIN, with a good editor, every single one of these issues could’ve been addressed and this would’ve been a really fun, exciting fantasy story.
As for the quest, it’s all over the place. Not just in space but in time. We start out with a 16 year old “man” but it seems as though years have passed when the war starts, but then we’re reminded that only a few years have passed. Time seems to have little meaning. I was wondering if, because seasons are mentioned as a measure of time if that didn’t mean that years were measured in seasons like in the “Red Wall” series. I’m going to hope that the passage of time is explained a little more fully in the next part of the series, or at least it will progress a little more naturally. If this is supposed to follow the traditional hero’s quest, it’s failing, which I had thought was impossible to do since the formula is as old as storytelling. Yet, here it is. His quest is a confusing mess filled with undefined twists and turns. Many of which seem unnecessary. I’m gathering that some of the actions taken and events that happen are to introduce him to new people. None of these new people, with the exception of the easterner, Mae, are rather flat, lending little to the action of the story.
To be brutally honest, the book, while a fun and ambitious concept, was rather boring. The few periods where action happens are short and lackluster. Davies would do his writing a very good turn if he read a few of the “Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osborne. If he plans on keeping with short descriptive devices, he could learn a few things about introducing histories/mythologies while still managing to make the action sequences fun and exciting.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
While “World of Pangea: Path of the Warrior” is an intriguing and interesting concept with massive potential for greatness (as in best-selling, possibly even ‘next-big-thing’ greatness) it just seems to fall short. To recap, there’s four major issues here…
1) Larger print (seriously, I thought I was going blind)
2) Chapter breaks. He had quite a few of these in some chapters, so what happened with the rest?
3) Make the quest and the passage of time more defined.
4) Improve the action to make it less boring. I think this will go a long way in helping improve this story. The concept is interesting, but the execution is long and rambling.
Of course, you could also sum ALL of this up with… THIS BOOK NEEDS A GOOD EDITOR!
With the hire of a good editor to work directly with the author in fixing the above errors, helping to find a little more concise direction, and of course re-publishing/re-releasing this one you’ve got a serious hit on your hands. While there’s a lot of work to be done here, there’s also a ton of potential, and I look forward to seeing where it evolves from here. — 5.0/10
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine