Esme’s SPFBO 2017: The Ventifact Colossus by Dorian Hart

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This was part of Pornokitch’s grouping and has since been eliminated.


Plot:

The book opens with a character named Dranko lurking through the streets trying to find a good target for a robbery. Not an armed robbery or by force, just a cutpurse. He makes off with a small winning and goes to find some food and drink. Shortly after the opening scene he finds a wounded beggar in the streets with a badly broken leg, and he attempts to heal him through divine magic even though it’s never worked for him before, but this time it does.

Later that night he gets a message from an Archmage saying he’s to meet with him the following day. He doesn’t know what to make of the letter but decides to check it out anyway.

As it turns out, he’s one of a few people who the Archmage has chosen, at random, to go out and check on a magical prison that’s holding a deity like being at bay – if he escapes it could mean a world of trouble.

The archmage Abernathy sent out a seeking spell of sorts, he wasn’t looking for anyone in particular, just people who fit the needs of the quest. There are 8 of them in all and they are all very different from each other, the one only unifying factor being they don’t have anyone to leave behind if they don’t make it back. All/most of them are without friends and family, so it’s basically a bunch of social rejects in a way.

Their mission, should they choose to accept, is to help keep the malevolent deity imprisoned before he gets out and turns the world into a horror show.

Final Score: 7.5/10 


Characters:

  • Dranko is sort of lude, he makes a lot of crass jokes that really irritate the more ‘clean’ members of the group. He’s gone through a lot of abuse in the past, at first you’re not sure what’s going on with the flashbacks he has growing up as a priest but you know the abuse was so bad he has scars all over his body. I actually really liked him, especially as the story progressed.
  • Morningstar is a priestess of Ell, she’s pretty reserved and doesn’t have many if any friends back in her sisterhood. They all look at her like she’s a freak because of how pale she is, and because of what name she was given when she joined – Morningstar is a brazen slap in the face to a priestess who’s never supposed to let the sun touch her. Priestess’s of Ell are forbidden from letting the sun touch their skin, they wake up midday and go to sleep at sunrise, it’s a really neat religious sect. She’s able to do some pretty serious magic herself, pulling someone from the brink of death.
  • Ernie and Tor are both 16 – 17 year old kids who kind of look at this as a grand adventure rather than a bother or a burden like some of the others. Tor is much more confident and sort of full of himself, while Ernie is a little more down to earth and also one of the few with a family back home.
  • Mrs. Horn was probably my favorite right from the start, I always get excited when a Sassy Old Lady gets put into fantasy. She has a wry sense of humor and was sort of the grandmother figure of the group
  • Aravia annoyed the hell out of me at first, but she’s supposed to – she’s a know it all kind of person and always thinks what she wants to do is best. She’s a wizard in training and loves to remind people of that, she has a lot of ambition and wants to be one of the best wizards around.
  • Grey Wolf is an older guy, he doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, kind of stoic and reserved – he def doesn’t like sharing about himself. But, he’s a very competent swordsman and a valuable member of the team. Dranko and others like to make fun of his name. He really does not like Dranko, calling him a coward and worthless on several occassions where Dranko drops the ball.
  • Kibi is sort of mysterious, from the start he says that rocks ‘speak’ to him and you get the feeling he can do some neat stuff. He’s a genuinely nice person and has concern for other members of the group from pretty early on. He’s a soft spoken person who keeps a lot to himself.

I think what I liked most about this is that the characters are so different from one another, the voices really stood out for me. Even though I didn’t particularly like the personality of Morningstar, I loved her story and background she was fascinating.

Final Score: 8.5/10 


World Building

This world is based around old school mysterious magic, Abernathy at one point literally wiggles his fingers at the group he’s chosen for the mission and teleports them outside of his tower.

Magic can be used to do just about anything, set things on fire, teleport, seek out potential hero’s, speak to people over a long distance through crystal balls – it’s a lot of fun and it’s a nice break from rigid magic systems. I tend to love a well developed and more structured magic system, but it’s really nice to sit back and enjoy some old-fashioned magic where everything isn’t quite so overburdened with rules.

Dranko is part goblin, and he has small tusks and more greenish skin to show for it, it tends to make him stand out in a crowd. It isn’t like people jeer and throw fruit at him in the streets, but it’s not a quality that endears you to society either.

I really liked how the magic in this world has subdivisions, divine magic worked through prayer, and wizard magic that’s worked through spells. The divine magic is sort of more structured than wizard magic, specific prayers induce specific effects. Dranko prays for healing calling out to the god Delios to use him as a conduit of sorts.

The Afterlife is a real place in this world, and Dranko finds himself in it, and quips about how it smells like a bait-house. When he was in there he saw a giant demon like statue he could barely make himself look at it.

The Black Circle is a concept and a symbol of dark powers, people who sign a dark circle instead of a name belong to the cult of the Black Circle, but it hasn’t been seen in many centuries – but it appears to have infiltrated the Church of Delioch and they are planning something.

There’s a fair amount of mystery going on as well, in the beginning of the book Ernie told the group that near his village a statue was unearthed that looked exactly like him, but it was hundreds of years old. Later on both Kibi and and Ernie have the same golden circlet.

The Ellish temples are painted all in black, there’s no torches or lighting outside of them and the priestesses great each other with “good midnight” it was kind of creepy and kind of cool.

 

Final Score: 8/10 


Pacing/Prose/Tone:

This book has a lot of funnier moments, but it also has it’s downer moments as well. I thought this was going to be more of a light hearted romp kind of a book given the dialogue exchange in the beginning – but one of the group dies early on and I was like “oh, well nevermind”. It’s a mix of snark and serious moments and I tend to like that even more than just straight comedy or just straight serious.

The pacing was pretty decent, it’s not a long book and there wasn’t a lot of filler, things moved along pretty quickly.

Pacing Final Score: 7.5/10 

Writing Final Score: 7.5/10 


Originality:

I’ve seen a lot of dark lords trying to take over the world, or evil spirits that have been imprisoned and are getting out. However, there was enough unique world building and other elements that kept it interesting. One of the first monsters encountered were swarms of flying eyeball like things with teeth that chewed peoples faces off, and the religion and afterlife stuff was very originaly – stuff like that kept it from being too similar to other books I’ve read.

Final Score: 8/10 


Audience:

  • For people who like classic mysterious magic with wizards and archmages
  • For people who like magic filled and monster filled worlds
  • For people who like “quest” stories
  • For people who like multi pov
  • For people who like female pov
  • For people who like lighter shorter books
  • For people who like adventure

Final Score: 47/60 or 7.83/10 or 4 stars on goodreads.

 

 

 

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