Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Edi's Spotlight: The Sentient Fire by D W Hawkins

Introduction

Today Edi's Book Lighthouse is the last stop on The Sentien Fire blog tour.

Today you get a double feature:
The review of The Sentient Fire (e-book, 2011) [where to buy] which is Book One Of The Seven Signs by D.W. Hawkins AND a giveaway at the end of the post.

Never heard of D.W. Hawkins and his The Sentient Fire before?
It does not suprise me in case you visit my blog for the first time. But in case you are a regularly reader ....
Anyway D.W. Hawkins is one of these authors who do not have a million Dollar contract with one of the big publishers.
Nevertheless for me he belongs to the growing group of authors who should find more attention. Noble words which I try to emphasize with my review.

Book Store Information
In general my decision to read a book is mostly based on the cover and the blurb/synopsis delivered on the back cover. You do not get more information when you are in a book store.
The world of books is changing which means I also will take in account blurbs and descriptions on GOODREADS and other places.
Here we go:

The Sentient Fire (2011)
by D.W. Hawkins
[where to buy]

"In one short night, Dormael Harlun’s life was changed forever.
Tired and half drunk, Dormael stumbled upon Shawna Llewan, a beautiful young woman, wounded and near death. What he didn’t realize was that his decision to come to her aid would be only the beginning of his unwitting role in a labyrinthine and perilous game.
Suddenly, Dormael and Shawna find themselves surrounded by enemies bent on their destruction. All avenues to safety are closing rapidly, and their only hope is to find the key to a dangerous secret lost to antiquity. With every ally a potential foe, they can rely only on Dormael’s brother Allen and his cousin D’Jenn to escape the will of a tyrant, the designs of a traitor, and the attention of powers beyond their imagining. Dormael has never been much for games, but destiny has rolled the dice for him and irrevocably placed him in the middle of a deadly game he must desperately play for keeps. Should he lose, he will forfeit not only his own life, but the lives of the ones he loves." [Source]
My Expectations
A first book in a series. A group of people on a quest with twists and turns. That sounded solid. I hoped for a well executed story laying the foundation for an epic quest. But I did not expect a nearly 800 pages opus! My expectations were rising after the revelation of the story length. I was curious in which direction D.W. Hawkins would go. Fantasy readers know what I mean without naming other authors.


Delivery
Let me start on a more formal level. The book is divided in 31 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. Beside that the book contains portraits of the main characters Dormael Harlun, D'Jenn Pike and Shawna Llewan. If you like to have map you need to visit the author's site.

Let us have a look at the main characters.
Shawna is a gifted swords woman. Allen, Dormael's brother is a strong warrior. Bethany is a mysterious young girl. Dormael and his cousin D'Jenn are - surprise, surprise - magicians. I did not expect that. I will come back to magic later. Beside that we have Emperor Dargorin, Maaz the necromancer and his brother Maarkov who is a gifted swords man.
Even with this short description it is possible to differ who is mor white and who is more black. That means there is a lot of different grays inhabitating the world. And that gives the world a more real touch and makes it a lot easier to connect with characters because the behave human. But attention: Do not be too credulous! The characters are not static. They develop and reveal new character traits.

There are many more characters. Some with important roles and other with tragic roles. Some of them have a short span of life. Each character with a name is important for the story and their actions or non actions have an impact on the main characters. They are like cogs in a clockwork.

So the characters belong on the plus side of The Sentient Fire.

All these people do not act in a vacuum. There are at least three continents with different landscapes: The Sevenlands, Alderak and Rastardia. The ilands Solace and Kerallia are located in the Stormy Sea
between The Sevenlands and Alderak.
These continents and islands are populated by different tribes who live in realms and have different affinities to weapons, magic, trade, farming and more.
Magic is performed by wizards. There is a developed magic system with a variety of aspects: from shapeshifting over levitation to powerful attacks and healing. And there is also another kind of magic, dark magic .....
And there is a third power which belongs to magic for me: LOVE

Regarding the use of weapons, tools and transport the world can be compared to medieval Europe.

The setting looks partially familiar but by combining well known ingredients with own ideas D.W. Hawkins created a world which delivers fascination, curiosity, exotic and familiarity at the same time.
To say it with one word: Distinctive!

So the setting belongs to the plus side of The Sentient Fire.


Did you read the blurb? Then you know the plot: Young woman in trouble and a hero who saves her. That's all??? On the contrary. At the end of The Sentient Fire you will still don't know the whole plot. Don't be disappointed or afraid. It is just Book One Of The Seven Signs.
The plot is revealed like you peel an onion. Every layer shows new impacts and implications. There are hints leading in the past and to mysterious places. People get involved you never thought about. And every time you think you have the story under control, you here a faint voice from the deep of your reader whispering: "You are so wrong."

So the plot belongs to the plus side of The Sentient Fire.


That all leads to the question how these ingredients have been executed within the nearly 800 pages? The answer begins with another question.

How do you divide nearly 800 pages that the reader don't loose interest or feels overextended? D.W. Hawkins chose a chapter length which reminds of short stories. And he executes each chapter like a short story with the exception that the end is not a real end. It is like eating eating a tasty piece of cake where you know while melting the last bit in your mouth you need to eat one more piece. But you can read more chapters in a row than eating piece of cakes.
D.W. Hawkins varies emotional passages (love and death), thoughtful scenes, detailed action sequences in different form (fights, thievery, torture and more), historical and magical lessons in way that the word boring disappears from your word pool. And that is done in a fluent style with the appropriate vocabulary.
Of course the book ends with a kind of cliffhanger. But that is not unexpected for the first book in a series.


So the execution belongs to the plus side of The Sentient Fire.


The Inevitable
This is the last part of my review. This is the part which authors fear and readers look at first: Judgement Day! Thumps up or down!

Let's have a look at the bill
Characters = Not perfect but amiable which means human; easy to connect with
Setting = familiar mixed with author's ideas means: Distinctive
Plot = Multilayer; still not fully revealed;
Execution = From soft and thoughtful to exciting and action packed
Entertaining factor = High

The Briton in me would say: "Not bad for a fantasy debut novel. It is worth to take in consideration to read the next book in the series"

The German in me would say: "You get a lot of well executed content for your money. That is a true epic fantasy book."

The fantasy lover in me would say: "I found a gem before a publisher discovered it. A great debut. I can't wait to read the next book in the series."

End of review


Before we come to the giveaway sponsored by D.W. Hawkins, I want to thank him for sending a review copy of The Sentient Fire and for the invitation to the blog tour with my review without knowing the result.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

The price(s):
- A Smashwords Coupon Code for one copy of The Sentient Fire
- Two 50% off Smashwords Coupon Codes for two copies of The Sentient Fire

This giveaway is opened world wide and ends on Sunday, April 15, 2012.

To take part is simple. Just leave a comment below and tell me your favorite fantasy series. Please keep in mind that I need a valid mail address in order to send you the code in case you win.

I will use random.org to choose the winners who will be announced on
Monday, April 16, 2012.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL PARTICIPANTS!

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Like an onion? Sounds deep.
My favorite fantasy series will always be my first - Terry Brooks' Shannara series.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Enjoyed reading , wonderful post.

Have a good day.

Yvonne.

RaveAir said...

Interesting. ~800 pages from a debuting writter looks very promising. However I don't like cliffhangers at the end of the books.

But I like fantasy series like Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM and Chaos-cycle by John Caldwell. And many-many more, other series from other writters. I have admit I can't choose only one.

ediFanoB said...

@Alex,

in 2009 I read my first and only Terry Brooks book so far: The Sword of Shannara. I liked it. For whatever reason I did not continue to read the rest of the trilogy.

To read nearly 800 pages without some depth would have been painful...

ediFanoB said...

Hello Yvonne,

thank you for your kind words.
I like your A to Z theme a lot.

ediFanoB said...

@RaveAir,

do you know a series without a kind of cliffhanger?
Maybe I should have been more precise.
The story reached a certain point but there is much more to come.
Look at the Lord of the Rings movies. Film one and two end with a cliffhanger from my point of view.

RaveAir said...

@ediFanoB,

You're right about cliffhangers. I think more than 90% of the series ended with them. But I still say, I hate them.

But on the other hand we have Alex J. first book, the CassaStar. It is ended with cliffhanger? No. Do you wait for the next books about Byron? I think your answer is yes.

I think if you read a very good series with great characters/heroes, there are no any sense of cliffhangers. A good CLOSED (or you-can-say-it-is-closed-story-but-partly-not) story has a good marketing value for the next books of the series.

rubydog said...

'Lord of the Rings' still has to be my favorite.

Kittie Howard said...

I haven't read this series but made a note to check into it. Thanks for the info. My hub loves German beer. I'm not that fond of any beer but do love the April Spriter I've enjoyed in Germany and Austria. We'll be in Austria the end of June. Looking forward to sitting outside and sipping one.

ediFanoB said...

@rubydog,

I understand your choice. Did you read the books? I know a lot of people who do not know the books.

ediFanoB said...

Hello Kitty,

glad you like my post. I hope you will have a great time in Austria. Sitting outside in beer garden, while the sun is shining is quite relaxing.

Maybe you can enlighten me. I tried do find out what kind of drink April Spriter is. I googled but did not find a proper explanation. The only one I found is Apple Spritzer.

ediFanoB said...

@RaveAir,

you have a point there. But for me there are different kind of cliffhangers.

The worst ones are those with a cut in the middle of action. Like you cut a book into pieces and publish them separately.

The end of The Sentient Fire is differs from that. Here the story has been developed up to a certain point. The characters take a rest before they dive into the next part of their adventure.

I do not want to convince you. I just try to tell you that this book despite the end is worth to give a try.

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