Thursday, June 16, 2011

Element Keepers - E.P. Marcellin


About the Book

Rhet guts fish for a living, content in obscurity until the day he is plucked from the wharves by nine exotic strangers and carted across the continent to a life-sentence of imprisonment. Though he has done nothing (as far as he knows) to warrant such capture, his captors are certain he will one day destroy the world if they do not prevent him. Though it is true that Rhet discovers great powers, he is neither villain nor hero. He is unique in a world where some can pull threads of wind from the air and weave it to do their bidding; he can bring wind into being where there is none. But a quest for domination begins to unravel the very fabric of the world, destroying the balance that must be maintained. It only took one to start the spiral toward chaos, but one alone cannot save the world, no matter how great his power. A new chapter in the story of the human race has begun. A slave will come to rule, a dockworker will meet his fate, and an unlikely group of companions will find themselves thrust to the forefront of the battle for life's existence. And man's future may be only Whispers in the Wind.


300 pages (paperback)
Published on: November 9, 2010
Published by: Tate Publishing
Author’s webpage

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I have a soft spot for fledgling authors and small press publishers. Sometimes this leads me to some real gems in the way of books, and sometimes I really miss the mark. I guess that can be said about pretty much anything, though. Regardless, I often feel like I’m venturing into the great beyond when I explore new authors and small press publications. It’s a fun detour from the more tried-and-true publishing houses and their products. This is no different with Element Keepers.

Element Keepers starts out painting a fairly stereotypical picture involving a rather simple man, Rhett, who is destined for something much greater. Rhett guts fish for a living, and from the get-go it’s obvious to the readers that Rhett doesn’t quite belong in the location he is currently living in. He sticks out in the way of looks and temperament, and other things that get discussed as the book progresses. By doing this, Marcellin exposes Rhett as an important character from page one, and also wraps him in a fair amount of mystery for the reader to unravel.

While this will serve to suck in many readers who will want to learn more about Rhett and the group of individuals he ends up with, there is a problem here. It smacks a bit too much of Rand in The Wheel of Time for my taste. Rand was the poor farm boy who was destined to rise up and… well, you know the rest. Many readers tend to enjoy these poor-boy-destined-for-greatness-with-trials-thrown-in storylines, I tend to be one of the readers who thinks they are a bit overdone and thus, incredibly predictable. This did end up affecting my overall enjoyment of Element Keepers, as I felt that the basic storyline had been done ad nauseam.

This easily leads me into my next major issue with Element Keepers. It’s a book that relies a bit too heavily on common fantasy tropes. While the characters are unique and interesting, the storylines are far too common in fantasy. This makes Element Keepers feel slightly tired and leaches quite a bit of uniqueness from it. However, that being said, some fans of fantasy might be attracted to this aspect of the book. Element Keepers is full of prophecies, small town boys destined for more, and travels into strange lands accompanied by a bit of magic and thus, can be quite an entertaining read for individuals looking for typical fantasy, rather than something stunningly new and different.

Element Keepers follows multiple storylines. Some of the characters are more well rounded than others. For example, the women in the book seemed a little pale in color compared to the men like Rhett and Peteal who steal the spotlight. With a bit more room for the women to grow, the book would seem quite a bit more appealing to many readers. All of the characters do seem to suffer from some two-dimensionality. There were times when they were all a bit too dry and wooden, and not completely believable.

Despite this flaw, Marcellin has a real flair for prose and with a bit of polishing at a few clunky points, her writing style really shines. She has a wonderful way with words which allows her to be descriptive without going over-the-top, or distracting from the overall story. She also tends to keep her dialogue, for the most part, believable and logical for the situations the characters find themselves in. These are all signs that Marcellin is a promising author. Even though I do have some issues with the end result of Element Keepers, she will likely be an author that sticks around for a while.

Element Keepers didn’t really knock my socks off, but it was an entertaining, and comforting read that didn’t challenge the typical fantasy tropes as much as I wanted it to. While this may lend the book a slightly exhausted air, many fans of fantasy could enjoy this book for what it is - a jaunt back to the old fantasy clich├ęs which are the very things that sucked so many of us into this genre. Marcellin’s writing style is what makes this book shine. Despite the slightly wooden characters and the stereotypical plot, Element Keepers has plenty of action waiting in the wings, and is a solid entrance into a series that fans will want to keep track of.

3/5 stars

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