Monday, June 18, 2012

Review of Distant Star - Joe Ducie

Distant Star
Joe Ducie

Enjoyment **** Plot *** Interactions *** Characters **** World ***** Originality **** Grammar **** Style ***

With Distant Star, Author Joe Ducie has produced a book that is a cross between Jasper Fford's Thursday Next series, Cornelia Funke's Inkheart and Roger Zalazny's Nine Princes In Amber series. That's a good pedigree.

Mr. Ducie has written an interesting and dense story that requires careful reading. It evokes Zalazny's style more than Fford's or Funke's.

In the opening scene, the reader is introduced to Declan Hale's life when the young bookstore owner is challenged to an old western style gunfight, but with books. Hale lives in True Earth and for those with Will stories and words have power and books written with Will can tap into the primal forces of the universe and create entire new worlds.

Most of the unfolding story revolves around the War of the Tomes which Declan single-handedly ended five years ago. Apparently no-one is happy with what he did to end it, especially not Declan. Now Declan has been banished to True Earth and spends his time drinking and writing an endless book. He is bitter, tired, and cynical and most of the action in the book consists of reactions by Declan to repercussions from that war.

As this fast paced story unfolds, Declan's history is told in bits and pieces. The history that is revealed is intricate and interesting with an epic feel and by the end, the reader can fully sympathize with Declan's dark side.

Upon reflection, the history was more interesting than the actual story which is perhaps why Mr. Ducie told it the way he did.

  • The author is too frugal with information. This makes the story hard to read and leaves a lot of questions about what exactly happened.
  • Some of the terminology felt misplaced and used more because it sounds cool than because it makes sense. The worlds created by the books is referred to as 'The Forgotten' which is anything but forgotten. He refers to the worlds created by Willful writers as the 'Infernal Worlds' and the powers used to create them 'Infernal'. That one still has me scratching my head. Even the title Distant Star which sounds cool would seem more at ease on a space opera than this multi-worlds urban fantasy.
  • Some of the interactions and dialog between characters seem designed to be evocative and fraught with innuendo and hidden meaning without ever revealing what the characters intended.
  • Using books as weapons to evoke gunslinger images was a stretch and felt more goofy than interesting. It felt like maybe that was the genesis of the book: 'Hey, wouldn't it be cool if these guys dueled with books?' But, when the story evolved beyond that goofy concept, the author couldn't bring himself to let it go.
  • Interesting story with good pacing.
  • Sympathetic characters
  • Strong engaging writing style.
  • Deep and complex world. There was a great feeling of depth to it.

If you were to just read the pros and cons you might think I didn't enjoy the book, but that is not the case. I enjoyed the story and have found myself reflecting on it a lot. In my book, that means it was worth reading.

After perusing some of the other reviews, the things which I felt were shortcomings obviously didn't have the impact on other reviewers that they did on me. If you enjoyed Zalazny's Nine Princes In Amber series, you will enjoy this. This is book is a fun read and Mr. Ducie is an author to watch.

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