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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Written by Ben Galley (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Order the Book HERE
Read an Excerpt HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ben Galley was born in 1987 in the British Isles. As a child, exposure to the works of Tolkien and Greek mythology helped fire his imagination and left him with a great desire to spin his own stories. Ben wrote the first book as a DIY project and since then has written several self-help blog posts and also offers consultancy services for the same. He’s currently hard at work with the next book. 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: His name is Farden. They whisper that he’s dangerous. Dangerous is only the half of it. Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options. 

Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesn’t want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await. Breathtakingly vast, chillingly dark, brooding and dangerous, The Written will leave you impatiently waiting for the next adventure… Welcome to Emaneska! 

FORMAT/INFO: The Written is 420 pages long divided over nineteen chapters and an epilogue that is spread over four parts. Narration is in the third-person, majorly via the protagonist Farden and a few one-off character POVs. This is the first book in the Emaneska series

December 1, 2010 marked the e-book publication of The Written and it was self published by the author. Cover design is provided by Mikael Westman.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Written is a debut book that I had no clue about but thanks to Mark Lawrence, I was clued to its existence. Usually it’s said never judge a book by its cover but in this case, I was ready to make an exception. The understated cover really drew my eye with its stark color usage, so in this case I was ready to make an exception. The book blurb didn’t really do justice or give any idea about the plot content. But I was truly curious about what this book would be about. 

The book is set in the world of Emaneska, a land of old magic and dragons and in this world are the mages called the Written. The curious thing about them is the presence of certain written words on their back that is supposed to be unique to each individual. One such individual is the protagonist Farden who is said to be one of the strongest crafters of their type of magic as well as one of the scariest people around. He’s also a bit aloof and shares his weird skills with a vampyre who loves history and older legends. His idle life is restructured due to events happening in the city of Arfell wherein a precious book containing several dark legends is stolen and no knows exactly who did it. Fingers are pointed at the dragons with which a current shaky stalemate has been achieved but all is at stake as the book needs to be reclaimed to save the world from ultimate chaos.

The author has a very distinct style of writing about his world, it is a world cloaked in mystery and one whose legends are not exactly the whole truth but there’s no one to confirm or deny it. The world’s layers are slowly peeled and the reader is as confused as the main protagonist as he’s faced with mysteries at every step. The pace of the story is another plus point as things are constantly happening that will propel reader onward, the pace never lets up and this also mirrors the rising tensions in the plot. Going on to the main protagonist, Farden as a character is supposed to be this big, bad and scary mage who has every one spooked. However the reader never gets the feeling entirely based on his actions as through out the story he often stumbles and falters in his path. Perhaps the author’s efforts to present him as a dark, badass warrior mage haven’t quite come out as envisioned by the author. I as a reader felt that he lacked that special factor that is so thoroughly advertized in the blurb and through out character conversations.

One good thing about the book is that there are certain twists that will surprise the reader by genuinely coming out of the left field, the story however doesn’t quite live up as it often takes a predictable route. A good example of this would be how the story unfolds towards the discovery of the villain however what happens in the end is what really makes the reader excited for the next book. The characterization is definitely a plus but the author has work cut out for him in the forthcoming books as there are some characters that are interesting however don’t get much page time and therefore they only enchant the reader for a little time.

I was thoroughly intrigued by the revelations about the world’s magic system and back history however it wasn’t thoroughly explored in this book and this could be done purposefully by the author since this is his debut and the start of the series. Lastly the book also has some good action sequences that show the twisted imagination of the author and the final sequence involving dragons is probably the highlight of the climax besides the end twist. Overall this book does have its shortcomings but it also has some silver points to it that make it stand out and fill me with hope for the sequels, I’ll be looking forward to the Pale Kings, as it promises to one up its predecessor and also provide a through background about the world’ s history. As a reader I can’t ask for more…

CONCLUSION: Ben Galley’s The Written shows a spark that is admirable, the talent might not match the execution entirely but it's there and it will be heartening to see how this young author manages to learn and hone his craft with the upcoming books, I’ll definitely  be taking an interest in them to follow through and see how he develops his skills.

8 comments:

Amanda Fanger said...

This one sounds really intriguing! I can't wait to get my hands on it. Good job on the review too - I enjoy following this blog.

bascule said...

At 99p well worth a look. Many thanks for the tip.

Mihir said...

@ Amanda

Thank you for your kind comments, hope you enjoy the read.

@ Bascule

Glad to hear it my friend :)

Grant said...

Sounds like it's worth checking out, especially for the price! Always nice to check out other new writers as well. I'll be sure to keep an eye on this blog, by the way - need all the inspiration I can get!

Amina Wahid said...

Amazing book! be sure to grab it! only bad critique its had has nothing to do with the story, just the editing wasn't great (few typos) but that is because the book was self-published so bare this in mind, also please like his facebook page! ben gives lots of writing tips and publishing advise to authors, enjoy :D

Anonymous said...

great one!

Anonymous said...

Looks good! The author seems to be having a lot of potential.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I am having trouble enjoying this book after reading the king killer chronicles. Ben's vocabulary is not very impressive and his imagery is often simplistic. I would recomend "the name of the wind" to anyone looking for this type of story. "The written" has an interesting enough story but repetitive diction and an absence of many if not all metaphor drag the book down, makin it difficult to become immersed in.

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