4 of 5 stars.
Normally I review books and short stories. But in a complete change, I’m reviewing a blog, Tales from Atelinor, and a rather new one at that. Not that I’m apologizing or shifting my focus, the writing on this blog is worth checking out. The author has not quite realized fully fledged short stories, nor does he claim to have. His supposed purpose was to post some of his writings based on writing prompts. Admittedly, this is not a very promising premise. However, the results are at times stunning in that each prompt is used to explore a fantastic world that will hopefully later set the scene and history for a novel series. The world building and character development are well above average. The first short story I read on the site [and the second one posted] was “The Dry Season.” The following is my initial review of “The Dry Season” with some editing:
This is beautiful writing [4 star, as I’m a little stingy with stars so as to not run out]. The contemplative nothingness that is happening is reminiscent of Rothfuss’ Slow Regard for Silent Things. . . .Jary [the narrator] is a distracted writer with writer’s block who is trying to notice everything in order to write, but notices every distraction instead. It’s a lovely set-up. The pacing and world-building is appropriate giving a bit of social structure [in thinking about a conversation with a lordling] and history [in thinking about dubious scientific claims on lifespans] and culture [in thinking about musicians and troubadours]. Kudos.
That said–WTF?! One cannot end a story in the unresolved manor that this is left. Scott Lynch [author of The Lies of Locke Lamora] absolutely would end a chapter abruptly only to launch into a chapter that takes place 2-20 years earlier. Then in the scene following would dive right back into the shocking scenario. It’s an anxious and frustrating way to hear a story, but it pays off amply in that we know he will get back to the scene in some pages. This story just ends [though the author promises to revisit and resolve this story]. The world of Atelinor also resembles Lynch’s in the Gentlemen Bastards series in that it seems a middle ages society on the remnants of a great, unknown prior society.
I know this was only based on a prompt, but one cannot throw a wrench through a window and say The End.
The other short story posted, “The Akarian Calendar,” is also not a finished story, however it is a complete scene and an enjoyable one at that. The promising beauty is in “The Dry Season” even without being finished. If it were the snippet on the inside flap of a book cover, one would buy this book. It’s that intriguing, and well-voiced. The wait for a full story could end up being a long one since the author is so early in the process, but I enjoy feeling like I am viewing his writing process.
[Check out my other reviews here.]