[Review rewritten for greater accuracy and clarity]
This is a curious book. The setting is unusual, sixth century Eastern Europe, although it didn’t feel any different from a great many other fantasy works in that respect, at least not in the early parts. The protagonist, Javor, is an interesting character, an immature fifteen year old who doesn’t fit in at all with his family and society and is shunned as an outcast. Of course, he has strange powers, not yet fully developed and… Well, I think we can see where this is going.
Now there’s nothing wrong with retelling a familiar story, and this one has some nice original twists. Still, it does feel rather hackneyed at times. There’s the wise old mentor guiding the young man along and encouraging him to fulfil his true potential. There’s the inevitable quest, there are a couple of magic gizmos and some monsters to be defeated – and no, there’s never any doubt that they will be defeated. However unoriginal the trappings of the story, though, it’s refreshing to see a hero who is, in many ways, very unhero-like. He seems, to my inexpert eyes, to be almost autistic in his aversion to social interaction. This might be a part of his abilities or it might be unconnected, but it’s interesting.
So, having defeated a few monsters, the hero and his mentor are about to set off on a journey to Constantinople when – the book ends with the dispiriting words: ‘End of Part 1. The remainder of The Bones of the Earth: Initiation Rites can be purchased for 99 cents on Smashwords.’ Well, no it can’t. If I want to read the rest of the story, it seems my only option is to pay the full cost of the whole book, having already paid for what is apparently only a sample. If I were enthralled by the story so far, perhaps I might do that, but while it has its moments, it’s a bit meh, so I think I’ll pass. One star for a DNF.