About a year ago I decided to blog primarily to sharpen my writing skills but also to write about my varied interests as the mood or an idea struck me.
One of the unanticipated benefits of blogging was getting to know other members of the blogging community from around the world. One of these fellow bloggers is Stephen Eardley from Great Britain, the author of The First Warrior.
Stephen is one of the many self-published authors taking advantage of Kindle technology in order to get his work out.
I must admit I was a bit apprehensive in purchasing a self-published book, especially in an unfamiliar genre niche. While I read historical fiction (Cornwall, Pressfield, and others who deal with ancient or medieval themes) I had stayed away from fantasy or sword and sorcery or the even smaller niche of Christian fantasy/sword and sorcery.
Part of my reasons for staying away were simply pragmatic, that is, not having enough time to read in my favorite genres and because I favor history never really enjoyed delving into fantasy worlds. I suppose what changed my mind about that was the LOTR trilogy of movies when I concluded, by golly this stuff can be interesting and even have a message.
I was also a little reluctant to purchase a self-published work because I feared the editing of the work might not be up to snuff.
So, having said all that regarding my reluctance I decided to give Stephen’s The First Warrior a go on my Kindle app for iPad.
At first I had to get used to the style of writing as it related to the main character’s thought process. The main character is named Ard, a hero-king of biblical proportions, literally and figuratively. The story line develops as Ard recounts his story to a chronicler. At points, it seems choppy until you realize that when someone recounts their story they usually head down any number of secondary stories as the memories come back.
The more you read, the more the pieces start to fit together.
Stephen weaves Ard’s story in an interesting way especially if you are familiar with biblical themes particularly the idea of good versus evil. For example, one of Ard’s main antagonists is named Nahash which is Hebrew for “snake.” Ard’s sword is named Adamant and that should you give you a clue that story starts in Genesis, yet departs from the official biblical record in interesting ways.
In that way there is a LOTR and Narnia feel to the book, yet it is not a clone nor an attempt at a clone from Tolkien or Lewis. Yet it seems to fit into the allegory niche quite well.
While the story line is intriguing, the battle chapters are excellent. If you know Stephen’s background you’ll understand why. Stephen is a historical, tabletop, wargamer and as the battles unfold you can visualize the tabletop tactics wargamers use. (I was a tabletop wargamer myself.) The initial battle between Nahash’s hordes and Ard’s Todah Knights takes up many chapters and none are dull.
I also found Stephen’s ability to describe compelling. The book deals with a period of history that really isn’t a period of history. So, while many things are familiar, many things are not and the way he describes the distortions to what we call creation are in my opinion fascinating. The chapters on Ard’s quest and involvement in Faer Land are the case in point. Good stuff. To say more would give away too much.
Other characters besides Ard worth mentioning are Aduna, Ard’s love, but who belongs to another. And then there is Mecator, an inventor type and hero in his own right as he designs war machines that are used in a decisive way in yet another epic battle with evil.
The novel is populated with interesting characters, both good and evil, human and non-human, angelic and demonic.
Because I’m a book addict I have many books lying about, started but not finished. This is not usually a problem because they usually are theological or historical and you are not necessarily following a story line. It’s easy to pick up where you left off.
Not so, with a novel, at least not for me. When I delve into a historical novel or in this case a fantasy novel I want to feel the need to keep going in the story to find out what comes next. After all, do we not read novels as a form of enjoyment?
So, as I reviewed Stephen’s first work I asked myself how bad did I want to get back to it? Was it hard to put down even as my eyes grew heavy wanting sleep? The answer to these questions is yes. I found the story more and more compelling as I worked through the 432 pages. I wanted to see what comes next.
I’m happy to see that The First Warrior is a trilogy in the making. I give it five stars simply because I enjoyed it!