Ghostwalker (The Spiderlily Series),

Ghostwalker (The Spiderlily Series), a fantasy in e-book by Nicole Martinsen.

Plot: Difficult to delineate. The story opens with Daerin leading Heron and Ballard on a trip. The three were friends and business partners on the brink of total success when suddenly all disintegrated. Once pleasant Daerin returned to rural Rivertone from a trip. Now greatly troubled, he weeps almost uncontrollably and becomes reclusive and dominant in all relationships. The reader discovers that he, a sailor (actually as later described, seemingly an accomplished ship’s captain and navigator), must make a horrendous decision with respect to Jade, one of his children whom he fathered with the ruling Queen of the realm in the nearby city of Lydia. The child is clairvoyant and with such power would be a disaster if becoming dominated by the wrong influences (although another possibly darker reason is hinted) for dictating the following action. Consulting with Ezra, a famously wise elf, a decision is made to send her to a monastery where she can be taught to control her abilities. Meanwhile, and seemingly more or less simultaneously, the reader is introduced to Renee, Tera and Alyon in a forest garden in Rivertone which is the home of many elf-born sons and daughters. The two girls discover an unusual flower, a Red Spider Lily, which Renee explains to the younger Tera is known as “The Flower of Goodbyes” because when it flowers, its leaves fall off. Legend has it that Nature had assigned two elves, one to guard the flowers and one the leaves till the ‘end of time’. Unfortunately, the elves fell in love, neglected their duty and Destiny punished them by separating them so they never again could be together. Renee leaves, and little Tera asks the much older Alyon who is reading nearby, if the story is true. He says it more probably is a myth. Later, Tera, wishing to be helpful, is told by Jade “You will only hurt everyone you ever will care about”. Tera runs away, comes to the garden encountering the Spider Lily and to prove Jade wrong, attempts to destroy it. She dies but in doing so awakens the sleeping Feyt, who similarly had attempted to change Destiny. Feyt offers to help her in her attempts and Tera becomes somewhat of a ‘ghostwalker’. The story continues in a complicated manner including destruction of the realm by the guilds uprising, Alyon’s ascension to ruler and eventually thoughts of rebuilding, all while Tera continues actively through early to mid to late teens actively most prominently attempting to thwart Destiny.

Discussion: The author has presented a fantasy replete with humans, elves, human/elf hybrids, children of the hybrids, dwarfs, or more properly dwarves, and clairvoyant activity all in a sweeping panorama of activity. In this reviewer’s opinion it seemingly is directed toward an attempt to teach the young reader tolerance, equality, understanding and above all perseverance to overcome any seemingly impossible barrier. (Very early the author proposes the question: “How far will you go to defeat destiny?”)

The author’s altruistic theme is most commendable. However, a little bothersome to this reviewer with respect to young readers is the rather dark theme. Besides the above quote “You will only hurt everyone you ever will care about”, there is a rather jaundiced, almost bitter quote included from Jean de La Fontaine: “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time, they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them” and these, along with much of the activity, as well as the environs seem to combine to give a somewhat depressing atmosphere to the tale. Also parenthetically, the manner of presentation – often quite rapid and even confusing movement from one depicted area and activity to another as well as the individuals’ participation in them – ridiculously no doubt, but fleetingly and prominently brings to mind the rapidly changing of commercials one is subjected to on TV. Granted, the average attention span now has been determined to be just slightly over 8 seconds, but this need not be reflected in the story design. It would seem that more cohesive movement from one action/person to another and more ‘filling out’ of individual characters with attempts to establish greater empathy could have arranged to overcome much of the problem and help mitigate many of the frequently unexplained, often cruel appearing activities in which prominent characters indulge.

Conclusion: A story for young readers whose level of acceptance this reviewer believes will depend largely on their attained level of sophistication and pragmatism. This element especially would seem to be pertinent in this time when even the very young are exposed daily to large quantities of both through their ever present electronic devices.

3* Possible level of enjoyment if reader’s pragmatism level has remained low.

Burrow

Burrow, a sci-fi novel, Digital Edition by Jesse Lawson.

Plot: The universe actually consists of two parallel universes who some time previous to the reader’s introduction had completed a catastrophic war and were living under a seemingly uneasy peace treaty. Now, right universe Relative Two’s Planet Threa’s main administrator appears to be an Admiral, while left universe Relative One is ruled by a President and Congress, with attendant Ambassadors from the other areas, but also has a powerful General. The left universe (Relative One) consisted of Earth, which appears to be deteriorating rapidly, Orbital Colony (a type space ship but of huge proportions) and Lunaria. The right, Relative Two, was composed largely of the inhabitable planet Threa that has a prominent Chronology Program which, with an admiral in charge, seems to fit largely into a military training component. The two are interrelated by a Hyperlink that allows interplanetary travel and commerce. Unfortunately this restriction on travel offers the same ‘backing up of traffic’ as is experienced in the Panama Canal. All residents of the two universes seem to be human or human-like with many sharing all of the baser human qualities. Thus, when a brilliant Major in Relative One devises a burrowing device that allows any ship equipped with the system to cross the divide, the controlling general of Relative One covets it for personal gain and devises a plan to convince Congress that Relative Two attempted to sabotage number One and gains their vote to proceed with a preemptive strike. The story moves forward as the preliminary moves are made followed by subsequent action by the characters in evolving, often changing roles. Duplicity, deceit, deception, betrayal, subterfuge and fraudulence are rampant.

Discussion: A sci-fi tale dealing with parallel worlds which seems to be of increasing interest in the last few years and perhaps amusingly, even was used quite often and interestingly by Louis L’Amour, a giant among western writers of the last century. Here, the story has great potential but regrettably is flawed for this reader in several ways. Further character development would greatly enhance the tale, especially with respect to Corbin who the reader is led to believe contains an unusual (?), different (?), strange (?) secret which never is divulged even when the tale ends. There also seems to be a loss of direction to the story in areas. The author just stops at the end with no closure for the reader, who just is left with the assumption that the story is going to continue, but leaves an uneasy sense of wondering whether you care.

Conclusion: Sci-fi with great potential but unfortunate flaws that a good editor no doubt would be able to correct.

3* Sci-fi with great potential but unfortunate flaws.