I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Initially I tried to tell the author (Brae Wyckoff) that I did not think I was the best person to review his work. However he was adamant in his pursuit of getting me to review the book, and requested I read and review his work despite my reservations. I respect his desire for an honest, frank review from a third party and agreed.
The Orb of Truth by Brae Wyckoff is a fantasy novel that draws very heavily on Christian themes and various other sources of fantasy lore. Dungeons & Dragons as well and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series were the two most prevalent. To be very blunt, I did not enjoy this book. I felt like Mr. Wyckoff frequently struggled with word choices and the editing was poor. The dialogue was often awkward and was reminiscent of the dialogue from a Syfy Original Movie. It was filled with danger, but there was never any peril. It drew upon other established works so heavily that I did not feel like I was reading an original work of fantasy so much as I was reading some kind of frantic fanfic mash-up. Ultimately, this is not a book I would recommend.
1. The story, while not very deep, is simple and easy to follow.
1. While I understand that most stories are derivative of other stories we’ve experienced, and there will almost always be threads of commonality between every story, I really felt like the creativity in this book was largely lacking. The story follows a hairy footed halfling called an Ordakian that is destined to save the world by carrying a magical artifact (Lord of the Rings) A great deal of the world’s denizens and lore are pulled directly from their source material (King Manasseh). Our intrepid adventurers encounter a Beholder (it even shoots lasers out of its eyes). One of the characters even plays out a situation that almost perfectly mirrors the binding of Isaac. The author even uses some token phrases and laws from Dungeons and Dragons to govern his world and it’s magic. Dragons’ breath is referred to as a “breath weapon” and one of the characters in the story has a magical sword which has a set amount of elementals it can summon on a daily basis.
2. The book is full of danger without peril. Nearly every time the heroes encounter a threat or problem, they were conveniently handed the solution the night before. Surrounded by a group of the evil king’s men while at an inn? No big deal, we just got this magical key that can open portals last night (That we’ll never use or speak of again). A member of our party has been attacked by water trolls? No sweat, this guy who just joined our group has a sword that lets him breath water and move through it as if he were flying through air. You’re in the middle of nowhere and your dwarf friend is going to die without a healer? Oh look, a convenient traveling caravan with a healer!
3. The writing itself would have greatly benefited from some polishing and editing. Several times throughout the book, words are used incorrectly, such as in the phrase “A sense of relief purged through her body.” There are plenty of words and phrases that I found odd in regards to application in a fantasy world. They enter a castle and instead of it being made of stone and mortar, it’s made of cement. The word “magic” or “magical” is used so frequently to describe things it becomes annoying. “My magical dagger.” “The magical darkness.” “My sword is magical”. A search on my Kindle app finds the word “magic” 100 times. The book is 242 pages long, meaning roughly every 2.5 pages, you read about something being magic or magical.
4. The characters were boring and quite cliched. You have your token rough and tumble fighter in the dwarf and the man driven by faith who is extremely polite and correct in Abawken. The hero who cares deeply for his friends in Birdizak. The brooding lone-survivor-of-his-kind in Xan. The power mad evil king who has turned to darkness in an effort to obtain more power is there as well. None of the characters struck me as particularly organic or real. While they do have a few moments of depth, it isn’t regular enough to make the characters feel genuinely organic.
5. Half the dialogue in the book feels forced and unnatural. On top of that it’s filled with lines that I’d expect to hear in a bad movie . “Bad dog, now I have to put you down.” “They’ve messed with the wrong dwarf.” “You are a good thief because you stole my heart.”
1. Not much meh in this book. I suppose you could consider the things that are pulled directly from Dungeons and Dragons a bit meh as they probably wouldn’t bother someone who isn’t familiar with D&D.
Centuries ago the Holy City was lost and destroyed, heralding in the dark age of man. The other races of Ruauck-El have been scattered and spend their lives hidden in forests and mountains in an effort to avoid the humans. But some still remain in human settlements. Birdazak, Spilf, and Dulgin are among the few who remain. Until one night in a dream Birdazak is gifted a mysterious box in a dream. This box prompts the trio to leave their shared home and head off in search of answers. Over the course of their adventure they will fight magical beasts, enter long forgotten temples, and find items of great magical, perhaps even divine, strength. But in the end, will it all be enough to defeat the Horn King Manasseh?