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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Curse Of Troius by Alan Edwards (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read an excerpt HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Alan Edwards majored in English at the University of Florida before switching to an accounting degree, which he completed while working full-time and attending night classes. Since then he has worked as an accountant and keeps himself sane by reading, playing computer and console games as well as tabletop role-playing games, watching TV, and playing with his dogs. This is his debut.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: A mad necromancer has plans to build an ever-growing army of the undead in order to revenge himself on the wizards and commoners who dared judge him. Unfortunately, the hungry dead are difficult to keep reined in, and the long-crafted plan quickly goes awry. When the tower of Troius is breached by curious treasure-seekers, the undead move into the countryside of the quiet backwater of Northreach, an ignored land north of the city-state of Anticus.

The village of Daneswall is a remote, self-sufficient community of farmers and craftsmen, content with their lives and the order their days fall into. When a stranger arrives, the town struggles to accept him, with most keeping him an outsider and at arm’s length. When the horde of abominations comes to the town, however, the Stranger’s past life may be the only thing that can help them survive.

CLASSIFICATION: Dawn Of The Dead meets Relic in this eclectic genre debut. 

FORMAT/INFO: The Curse Of Troius is 274 pages long divided over ten numbered chapters and a prologue. There’s also a Pronunciation guide for all the names and phrases mentioned in the book, an excerpt for the sequel and a Glossary. Narration is in the third-person omniscient via many characters. The Curse Of Troius is the first volume of the Northreach saga.

April 14, 2010 marked the Trade Paperback and e-book publication of The Curse Of Troius and was self-published by the author.

ANALYSIS: Alan Edwards’ debut attracted my attention for a couple of reasons; primarily because Alan’s debut featured zombies and a small village that was unprepared to face the zombie threat, I was excited to see how this debutante would utilize zombies in a fantasy setting. Secondly it came with Steven Montano’s glowing recommendation, I always keep an eye out for his recommendations as I've found that his views match mine to a certain extent.

The story has multiple plot threads and begins with various characters; the first one is about the banishment of the wizard Troius for his heinous and malevolent acts against simple folk. Then we get a POV from a wizard who is in training and then further events occur that form the back story of this book. The story has a lengthy prologue and we get to meet one of the main protagonists in the first chapter, who remains nameless for quite a while in the book. We are then slowly and surely introduced to all major characters of the village and thus the author further diversifies the POV structure. The story then is propelled forward by having certain events to take place that cause the zombie outbreak to occur and then the author gives us a very visceral and close eye view of the events that unfurl.

The author then completely unleashes the myriad action and gore-filled sequences as various parties are stricken by the undead horde while a few others manage to make a stand and try to save their skin. The book has some constant plot switches as well changes in POV narratives thereby keeping the readers on their toes but also at the same having the effect of a bit of narrative vertigo. I don’t know whether the author did this purposefully but often the narrative switches to a completely new character that might not make it till the end of the plot thread. There’s this unpredictability factor that makes the read that much more of a page-turning kind.

The story also has a large character cast however not all of them get to be on stage for long and several of them meet quite some gruesome ends. The story however has quite a lot of pace to it, the events are quickly set up and the author wastes no time to get into the main happenings. This will be helpful to the reader, as they will be racing along with the story to see what happens next. The biggest drawback of the story is also one of its unique features namely the multivariate POV cast and the constant switches. It makes the story appeared more hurried than it is, it also it doesn't give the reader much time to form connections with any of the characters as they are unsure whether they might make it through along with with changes as well.

This overall story felt like the Dawn of the Dead crossed with the Relic, featuring zombies that are chasing their prey in a closeted environment of sorts, has been done to death but surprisingly not in the fantasy field. Alan Edwards exploits this wonderful idea and give us a harrowing read wherein the reader gets an omniscient view into some horrific events. One of the main characters bears a close resemblance to agent Pendergast of the Relic-Reliquary duology and his entry into the story is very similar to that of Pendergast’s, mysterious and alluring. Another drawback to this tale is the fact that it often feels like a lengthy prologue to the story that is yet to come. The story also ends on an abrupt note of sorts and of course this means that the reader will be very curious to read the next book. (or atleast that’s what I think the authorial intent was)

I as a reader couldn't shake that feeling and I think a few others might share the same thoughts. The author however does his best to however keep the reader entertained while shining a light on various nooks and corners of his world and its backstory. I think this move was done so that those very things will come into play in the future volumes. The prose standard is good however it is not something that will have critics dancing with glee. Lastly the author lays the seeds for the future stories and it will be up to the reader to catch them and think upon what the future holds for our survivors.

CONCLUSION: Mixing zombies and fantasy, Alan Edwards decides to turn a few tropes on their heads while giving his readers an interesting story and the first volume of the Northreach saga. The Curse Of Troius is an entertaining read and it veritably heralds an author who’s not afraid to meld genres and tropes and force the readers to let go of their pre-conceived notions. Alan Edwards has given us a very good story, read this debut if you are tired of the usual zombie or fantasy fare.


Bob/Sally said...

Okay, you had my attention with "Dawn Of The Dead meets Relic" but nice review. I probably would have passed this over, based on the cover/blurb, but you've put it in the TBR pile.

Unknown said...

One of the great points about the book is that if you just lifted the storyline, and completely removed the zombies, it would certainly stand on its own. He set up the zombies coming in extremely well.

zingerb said...

Nice review. I liked the fact that certain characters were developed enough to make me start to care about them, only to get killed off. It keeps the reader off-balance. As a side note, the sequel, Storm of Northreach, has recently been released.

Daezarkian13 said...

Great review! BTW, the sequel, "The Storm of Northreach", is even better. =D

The Reader said...

@ Bob

Yeah the cover sadly isn't one of its positive features. I hope you enjoy the read and I'll look forward to your thoughts.

@ Peter

That's true :)


The Reader said...

@ Zingerb

Thanks, I'm looking forward to the sequel and hopefully will review it in Jan.

@ Daezarkian13

It was due to your recommendation that I came across it so thank you :) I've high hopes for the sequel.



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