Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Lodestone: The Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway

Lodestone Book One: The Sea of Storms
Author: Mark Whiteway
Series: Lodestone #1
Pages: 278
Genre: Science fiction
Release Date: April 12, 2010
How Received: Author

SummaryShann, an orphan with a fiery disposition, witnesses a battle between a Keltar and a stranger bearing a similar flying cloak. She tracks down the stranger, learning of the technology behind the Keltars’ power and joining him on a mission to free the slaves and cut off their supply of lodestones.

Meanwhile, Keris, a Keltar is sent on a mission to track down the rebels. She is attacked by a flying creature and saved by the enigmatic Chandara. At their Great Tree, she learns that a mysterious “Prophet” is out to destroy the Kelanni people. Their only hope is a powerful instrument hidden in the distant past.

Pursued by the Keltar, the party will encounter bizarre creatures, ancient technologies and terrifying dangers. Finally, they must seek to cross a massive storm barrier in order to reach the other side of their world, where a world-shaking revelation awaits.

My Thoughts:
Initially, it was very difficult for me to get into this book. I felt like I was being bombarded with new customs and everyday life, and it was very slow (despite its action-packed pacing). In fact, despite all the action that was in the beginning, the book didn’t really pick up for me until about ¼ of the way in. The beginning was pretty much getting introductions to the characters done, and weaving a plot to get them together. However, when all of the members of the “team” joined forces with one another, the book picked up the pace considerably. Once this happened, I was done – I was totally hooked.

I never anticipated how absorbed I would become into the novel due to the initial slowness of the book. But the world of the Kelanni was so intriguing. There’s unknown terrain and a lot of land to explore, as well as new creatures (like the Chandara and graylesh). There were so many customs and society norms to get accustomed too. The Kelanni themselves were an enigma we had to figure out – they are the “alien” race of the planet Kelanni, with animal-like tails and ears. (I kept picturing them as a scaled down version of Viera from Final Fantasy). They worship the 3 suns (yes, three suns!), Ail-Mazzorth, Ail-Gan, and Ail-Kar, and never see nighttime (or at least, the nighttime that we know of).

All of these customs are a bit overwhelming, actually, which happens to be one of the downfalls I found with this book. With any fantasy or science fiction novel, the authors need to ease their audience into the new world – explain things, hold their hand, etc. With this book, only a few things were explained (like the suns and their “religion”). I suppose that gave me a lot of leeway with my imagination, but I would have liked to have more things explained to me.

The characters were mostly enjoyable. I wasn’t able to connect with any of them, with the exception of Keris, but they were very fun to read about. Alondo was the “comedian” of the group, and I absolutely loved every time he spoke. Keris was a Keltar (one who is sworn an oath to the Prophet), but renounced her ways after an incident (vagueness is vague!). She had never been one to form close bonds to others, ever since she was a kid, and preferred to working alone than in a team. Lyall is haunted by his past and strives to actively change Kelanni for the greater good.

Shann is a young rebellious spirit that annoyed the crap out of me. I can appreciate her braveness and her spirit, but she had this unfounded vendetta against Keris that I saw was stemmed from jealousy and pettiness. Shann hated being treated like a child, but her actions and mistrust of Keris was the very epitome of childish. I can appreciate the doubt she had with Keris (since the group wasn’t sure of where Keris’s allegiance lay), but she doubted Keris too much. So much that it was unbelievable. And annoying. Time and time again, the “evidence” on Keris would be cleared, yet Shann remained doubtful. Ugh! Lastly, Boxx, the Chandara, is the last of the group, and my personal favorite. Chandara don’t have names or genders, but Boxx was called Boxx (“The Key”), and I always associated it as a him. He (in my mind, at least) was a cross between a centipede and a pillbug (roly poly) and had a different way of speaking that was adorable.

Despite my few misgivings with characters, inconsistencies, and lack of detail, this book was so entertaining after the beginning. The book is pitched as science fiction, and while it does retain a lot of sci-fi elements, I felt it had a more fantasy vibe to it.

Cover Musings: I love the colors on the cover. The cover almost seems like a painting, with a lot of colors merging with one another. It’s exactly how I depicted Kelanni in my head: colorful.

Memorable Quotes:
Once you understand the source of a tyrant’s power, you can use it against them. (pg 46)
Alondo turned to lead the morgren forward and Shann noticed his instrument was slung over his shoulder. She turned to Lyall, speaking in low tones.
“If we meet up with any dangerous beasts what does Alondo intend to do—serenade them to death?” (pg. 50)
“Keris?” it asked again in its odd accent.
“What is it?”
“Your People. Kelanni. They Do Not Like Me.”
“It’s not that exactly...” She struggled to find the words. “People are sometimes afraid of things that are unfamiliar, things that they do not understand.”
There was a pause as if Boxx were digesting this. He added, “Does Keris Like Me?”
She found herself unexpectedly flustered. “I will be back as soon as I can.” For the first time in as long as she could remember, Keris retreated. (pg. 75)
 She raised the makeshift club, and brought it down o nthe back of the Keltar’s neck. [...] Crack! The Keltar staggered forward from the impact. He turned, his left hand clutching the nape of his neck, and her eyes widened in disbelief. “Lyall! What are you doing here?”
His face was screwed up in pain. “Trying to rescue you. Although right now, it feels more like I need to be rescued from you.” As if to emphasize the point, he massaged his neck. “Oww!” (pg. 88)
 “I don’t have any answers for you, Shann. I hold myself responsible for a lot of things that happened. But I cannot change the past. I can only try and work for a better future—and to change the person I used to be.” (pg 260)

Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: A very well-done science-fiction and fantasy novel! The beginning is slow, but the pace began to pick up after all of the characters joined forces. There is tons of adventure and action packed into this book, as well as new creatures and lands. Kelanni was an interesting place to read about, and I found myself constantly wanting more! I was almost outraged at where Mark decided to cut the book off – I can’t wait to see what happens in book two!

Rating: 4/5

**This book was provided for review by the author in exchange of an honest review. (Thank you so much, Mark!)


Danna (Bananas For Books) said...

This book looks cute! I really like action-y books. I don't like how customs in books sometimes slow it down though:P Awesome review Kristina:)

Emi said...

Vagueness is vague?! Nooooo! How can you tease me with that?! Ah damn, now you've got me wishing that I had the book right here right now. I'm not really enjoying the book I'm reading right now, and this sounds like just the thing to satisfy my mood. I love these kinds of novels, even with all of the customs. *shakes fist* Jealousy has sunk in!

Jen (@ Jens Book Closet) said...

I actually am not a huge fan of that cover, but I really really like the synopsis. I think this is one for the TBR.

Oh, and on a sidenote, you really should start the Morganville Vampires. That is, you should if you like vampire books. I absolutely love Rachel Caine. She is such a wonderful author. I would place her in my top 10 favorites. If you read more than just YA, I would highly HIGHLY recommend her adult series, the Weather Warden. I'm in love with those characters.

In the Closet With a Bibliophile

Angela Tolsma said...

interesting a scaled down version of Viera from Final Fantasy. This sounds intriguing.

Jenny said...

Really nice review Kristina! I usually have trouble getting into stories with substantial world building in the beginning as well just because there's so much to keep track of, but I'm glad once you were in you enjoyed the story!

Ashley Delgado said...

I'm not really a fan of sci-fi, but this story sounds good. Maybe I'll pick it up. Thanks Kristina! :)

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Danna: Same here! There was a LOT of action packed into this book. :)

Emi: YES vagueness is vague. I had more to this review but I cut it short. I can e-mail you the long, unabridged version. :) I'M the one wanting the second book! The book was left off on a cliffhanger :(!

Jen: Aw, really? I love the colors on the cover! When I was imagining the world of Kelanni, I imagined it as super colorful, like the cover. :) Let me know if you DO read it! :)

Namine: Hehe, that was my take on it, at least. They had animal like tails and ears and olive skin (because they were being bombarded with three suns). I just pictured their ears like a Viera's ears. xD

Jenny: Aw, thank you! It's really difficult to get immersed into worlds at the beginning because you're being overwhelmed with a lot of things. I think beginnings are usually what slows me down. xD I had to re-read through this beginning at least 3 times to get what was going on (because the story starts out with Kal, not Shann or Keris)

Ashley: You definitely should! It was so fun to read! Let me know if you pick it up. ;)

Cialina at said...

I love the illustration of the cover because it is just so colorful! The font is not that great, but the rainbow is alluring. :)

Hmmm, idk if I'll pick this one up. Based on your review, the development of the world that this author has created isn't well done.... I need to be able to fully immerse myself in the world a story is taking place in to really enjoy it.

Never heard of this one, or the publisher. Love that you are also reviewing lesser known books in addition to the popular titles out there! Versatility ftw.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Hi Kristina,

Here's an intriguing fact which is an exclusive for your blog. The prologue involving Kal is actually far more important than you might think. It turns out to be a key component in the resolution of the main story arc in Book Three!!!

Mark Whiteway - Author

Mark said...

Hi Dana, Hi Jenny.

I really don't think you will have a problem with the customs of Kelanni, as it becomes pretty clear what they are. "Hariath-Sharana" for example is a meditation or memorial for those who have died, which becomes obvious as you read the story. I wanted to create an alien feel. but not so much as to make it incomprehensible.

Hi Jen,

All my covers are scenes from the book. This one is from the penultimate chapter. It stretches across front and back covers, so you have to open it up to get the full effect!

Hi Cialina,

My approach to world building is "different". I chatted to Kristina about this. What I do is give a full description of items essential to the plot, but with others that are not essential, I do short "brush strokes" so that the reader can use their imagination. I feel that this ultimately makes the experience more enjoyable. You can read my listing on Amazon for reactions on this. You will see that most people seem to love this approach and have had no problem getting fully immersed in the world of Kelanni.

Mark Whiteway - Author

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