I’ve followed Mr. Shuler on Twitter for quite some time. You can find him there as @anakronistical. When I followed him initially, I believe I knew he had written a book, but I don’t remember much more than that. Several months ago he was asking for reviews if memory serves me well, and I told him I’d be happy to review it so he sent me a copy of Gods of Sand and Stone.
On to the review.
Synopsis: After the brutal slaughter of his family, Conn takes justice into his own hands in a quest for vengeance that carries him the length and breadth of the land, earning him the name Fuilteach – Bloodthirsty.
When a seemingly chance encounter reveals that he is merely a pawn in a dark plot by the God of Death, Conn must decide to pursue his vengeance or unravel the twisted strands of conspiracy and stand against the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.
His decision is complicated by the arrival of a dead chieftain’s daughter who might be more than she seems and a strange old man poking into the secrets of Conn’s past. Can Conn thwart the plot before the god’s agents find him? Can he stand against a god? (Stolen from Amazon.com)
Setting: To be honest, I can’t remember if Mr. Shuler ever gave his world a name. If he did, it really wasn’t important because biology, physiology and nature pretty much acted exactly as you would expect them to act on earth. With one difference. Magic. Devine magic. You know.. as in Gods of Sand and Stone magic. The title was chosen for a reason. The setting could be described as a pretty typical fantasy setting which is fine, because the book definitely fits into the fantasy genre.
Plot: Well, this is one of those rare cases where the synopsis printed above does a pretty accurate job describing what the book is about. I will say that the action picks up after certain events have taken place and you really don’t follow Conn as he gains his notoriety. Rather, it is stated that it exists and asks you to believe it. I had no issue with this style of storytelling and was easily able to follow the storyline.
Characters: The characters in Gods of Sand and Stone weren’t as well fleshed out as I would have liked. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t understand their motivations or empathize which them when they discovered the lies that had governed their lives, but the book was simply not long enough to build the characters into the presence they deserved.
Odin’s recommendation: I really enjoyed Gods of Sand and Stone, but I must admit I had one rather large issue with it. It was too short. Now before you comment, wait: I KNOW it is book one in a series, and I greatly enjoyed it. However, the book didn’t flow as smoothly as I would have liked because each vignette seemed like exactly that: a small picture rather than an integral piece of a larger whole. Having said that, don’t get me wrong, I wan to read the rest. Mr. Shuler has written an intriguing story here and I do want find out how Conn gets out of the predicament Mr. Schuler left him in (warning: you will be cliffhangered). Mr. Shuler’s dialogue is a bit “clipped” (sorry, best wording I could come up with) but his descriptive paragraphs are quite good. Yes, a good editor could greatly improve this book by having the author double the size with more information in each vignette, but is still a good tale as it is.
All in all, you will get more than your money’s worth at $2.99 on Amazon and if you’re a fan of fantasy, pick it up. You won’t be sorry.