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Review of "Black River Chronicles"

This is a well written book which I enjoyed reading. Tight, effective prose throughout much of it. (Spoilers ahead) I wonder if the writers are aware, though, that the greatest genuine adventure in their book is what they might be up to when they suddenly decide that what they're describing is worthy enough to demand the narrator really work at being precise, to nail the experience down, particularly... to the point of risking mistakes, seeming sloppy, seeming ridiculous. "Slabs of stuff" (i.e.muscle) end up matching with "elegant legs," in a description of a unicorn which also involves the "leaking" of its moon-white radiance, which is quite a confabulation, but somehow much more exciting -- adventurous, for the reader -- than much of the rest of the descriptions, which are exact, perfectly chosen, but also -- expected. As well, count me amongst the readers who delight when an author is "absent-minded" enough to use words that are precise to the situation but which a reader might not understand -- I'd prefer to not always be in their minds, thank you, or else what are we all doing but mutually likewise going on an adventure we've already been on. No growth opportunities there; that's no way for OURSELVES to level up.

Someone criticized the book for not allowing D & D type levelling up -- that is, levelling through killing lots of things. And it is true, first encounter is with things too innocuous to kill, the second is with something too resplendent to even think of killing, and the third is something vastly beyond their ability to kill: not so D & D. I'm fine with what they offered, though, with levelling up really just being about showing growth and competency, a la, as many people noticed, Harry Potter. The characters are kind and amiable, with backstories that could haunt their journeys, that SHOULD haunt their growth -- they're distancing themselves from their parents' ways -- if the authors let it. Pretending to be mediocre so to not be spotted -- for tactical purposes, that is -- is a different thing than genuinely becoming mediocre (i.e., boring) because every bit of individuation brings to mind a father's, a culture's, castigation.

Both writers cooperated in the writing, I take it?
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ByKindle Customeron November 22, 2016
Do not purchase this book unless doing so somehow saves a loved ones life. The protagonist is am archer who is afraid of shooting anything because he might hurt it. Including wild animals and monsters. The wizards can't do magic unless they go back after and pray for the magic to not hurt the source of the magic. The warrior has no skill or brains. He is literally retarded and the rouge has a stick so far up her butt she won't Dan to talk to anyone or work with them. Until she does. For no reason. I made it halfway through and couldn't take the slop anymore. No development. Combat is different ways to run away, no magic AMD a crap magic system. Crap world development. This book has no redeeming quality what so ever. It would be better if the author deleted all associated copy's and notes and .... Nope. No and. Just get rid of it.
5 comments|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?

Bobo10 months ago
Am trying to decide whether to give this book/series a chance. I always look at the worst reviews first to see what negatives might bother me about the book. ...but there isn't much you've written, that is in the summary about what this book is about. did you not read the summary and miss the point of the book to begin with, or dis it simply not that good of a book?

David Tallerman10 months ago (Edited)In reply toan earlier post
Strange that you should mention that, Mike. My contributor copies arrived a few days ago, and it so happened to be the same day that my grandma was visiting. As bad luck would have it, the poor lady accidentally swallowed an apricot stone and began to choke; of course my first thought was to perform the Heimlich maneuver, but my gran's an unusually tall woman and I just couldn't reach. Fortunately there I was with twelve copies of The Black River Chronicles: Level One ready at hand, and piled together they were just sufficient to bridge the gap in our heights. The end result is that my gran is alive and well and my copies are safely ensconced on my bookshelf!

Liam Hogan10 months ago
I made it halfway through this review and gave up. Can someone tell me how it ends?

Digital Fiction10 months ago (Edited)
You know, it's funny you should mention saving a loved one. I was outside just the other day imploring my neighbor and his daughter to buy a copy of The Black River Chronicles. Just as he happily agreed and we exchanged a very reasonable 12 USD for the paperback version, we all heard a bellowed "FORE" from the golf course behind his house. Without a second thought he selflessly raised his new copy of The Black River Chronicles to the danger side of his daughter's skull, leaving himself exposed to what was surely mortal harm. The tiny ball of white extirpation struck the book so forcefully it tore the book from his hand; but the child was saved from certain death! That was the first of many loved ones spared by purchasing THIS book. I always carry an extra copy of The Black River Chronicles, but rather than fight the incoming menace I bravely ran away. Thank you for the opportunity to share this story, as unlikely as it may be... -- Michael

Patrick McEvoy-Halston 19 days ago (Edited)
Guys, this commenter does bring up some valid observations. The protagonists aren't using wands but swords and arrows... sharp things medievals used to butcher people, that told you a lot about how psychotic and cruel medievals were. Yet how do you have likeable characters who learn to cooperate and individually grow, all the while bloodying and killing every creature they happen upon as they adventure? It's difficult, and so, yes, combat in this book is in a sense "different ways of running away," or close to it: sometimes the point is to delay effectively until something else takes down one's opponent--responsibility's on you, unicorn: good thing you didn't have your horn and couldn't impale him or for your gross breach into blood and guts in this tale without hither-to any such, we'd probably feel inclined to shun you!; or how to use your sword so it serves mostly as a staff, something to fend people off with, keep them at a distance, and buy time; or how to use a fireball so that it's like a tribesman's patch burning--not even not much of a harm, but possibly a plus to the community it afflicts! 

The point of "levelling" is problematic as well, in that one of the characters is already an expert at his weapon of choice. He sucks... only because he has to pretend he sucks, for what is an actually a very interesting reason. No one wants to hear equivocations that later when he no longer has to pretend he isn't skilled, how, well, he's skilled, skilled enough to be pin-point accurate, for sure, as already laid out in him knowing he probably could have used an arrow to pin an opponent to a wall, but that there are actually refinements to be made in even this level of expertise so, lots of them, in fact, so... No, the plot went with making him already an expert, which was going to clash with the idea of their being novices at a school, but was apparently interesting enough an idea that the creators went for it anyway. Own it, and if need be, let the levelling system idea fade and die. His involvement with his father, and what it does to his performance on the field, is more interesting than what further schooling might allow for them. 

Besides, the manner in which the unicorn and the shape shifter are described... as them being LOADED with magic, makes if difficult to imagine beasts more truly dangerous for them to encounter. We'll remember if in the second book they meet dragons how much more upscaling of its description will be required for both of these creatures to seem comparatively dimmed in potency. In my judgment, given how these creatures were described in book one, there's not much room for it.


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