Sunday, June 30, 2013

Legacy of Krazatan: Book I: A Hero's Birth by Tylor Kranyak

Legacy of Krazatan: Book I: A Hero's Birth by Tylor Kranyak
 Synopsis (from back of book): Kai Un'kari is a young man from a backwater fishing village. All his life he has dreamed of travelling the world like his late father. In an unfortunate turn of events, he gets his wish when war breaks out between Horagothien and Austranvia, forcing him to leave his home. Upon meeting a man named Lukan, Kai finds out that he is destined to become a great warrior and the next wielder of the holy sword, Tenjin. He sets out on a journey to find the Tenjin so he can use it to bring peace to all the warring nations of Pangaea, and in turn prevent the second coming of Krazatan, the Chaos Dragon. Will he succeed in his quest to find the holy sword, or will he fall victim to the vast dangers of the wilds that have claimed the lives of thousands before him? About the Author: Tylor Kranyak lives in "Steel City" Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He started writing at the age of 14 in 2004. Recently he graduated from Humber College in 3-D animation.

In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

This book is aimed at a young adult/adult audience and is not suitable for younger readers due to some bad language and scenes of a somewhat violent nature.

There is quite a lot of world building in this book, especially near the start. It didn’t matter too much as this is the first book in the series and is to be expected. Each part of the world building is interesting and short enough too avoid becoming boring. Most of the time the way that it is told seemed natural although a few times it felt a little clunky. Also with the amount world building at the start, it was hard to retrain some of the information; fortunately the author provides small reminders later in the book when it becomes relevant.

The story itself is a fairly traditional coming of age/fantasy novel where the young hero lives in a backwater village dreaming of a more exciting life, there are hints that he has greater powers. Then one day a mysterious stranger turns up allowing the young hero’s adventurous life to begin and he starts to master his special powers. That is not to say the story is completely unoriginal, there are plenty of new and rarely used ideas, or twists on traditional ones. For example early on the hero is forced into conscription by his country’s army, but in a twist on what is normal in a fantasy novel, the government is actually a nice one instead of an evil dictatorship, the soldiers are kind and take care of the new conscripts, we are also told that new soldiers are trained and placed at outposts before they are sent to the frontlines.

The animals in the book are also an original concept. They are reptiles that resemble dinosaurs, this was interesting and exciting. It was also well written and presented in a believable manner, they really felt like the where part of the world’s ecosystem and were real living creatures and not tacked on or artificial as often happens when dinosaurs are in books or movies. One downside to this originality was that it would sometimes get confusing with all the different species and remembering which was which. A glossary would be beneficial or perhaps a few more reminders when the creatures are in the book especially early on.

There were quite a number of story threads going on throughout the story, especially considering that there is only one P.O.V. Fortunately the author does an excellent job of reminding the reader of what has happened when an older thread returns to the story, providing enough information without going overboard. Some of the threads are left open to be completed in the rest of the series.

There were a few minor inconsistencies or moments that didn’t seem quite right. For example (minor spoilers ahead, highlight to read.) why was there a need to remove Kai’s name from the records, his entire squad was believed to be dead so why not just take on a new identity, also is seemed wrong to change his birth name in his records to the name he went by anyway, if someone was looking for him it would still be easy to trace him. It also seemed odd that the traders would have picked up surplus weapons when there was a war going on. At one point we are told the hero is the only one in his village that likes snow, but at another point we are told he played in the snow with his friends.

The characters are written very well. Kai, the main character whose point of view we follow, has real thoughts and feelings, he is afraid of dying, he has feelings of regret over those he is forced to kill and he misses his friends and family. He has an interesting personality; generally kind and wanting to do the right thing, but he also has a darker side that sometimes emerges. One nice twist on what normally happens in fantasy novels was that the lead character doesn’t become suddenly great at fighting or powerful in magic. When facing veteran opponents he doesn’t fair very well, often he only wins his battles through luck or quick thinking.

The magic system is also nice, as it takes time and energy to be able to cast spells, and if a user tries to do to much they can end up severely injuring or even killing themselves. This brings a nice balance to the world, preventing those with magic becoming too powerful and prevents you thinking a mage will always win a fight. It also makes you nervous when the main character uses magic because he may end up harming himself.

Lukan, Kai’s mentor is an interesting character. He is a nice balance between being firm with Kai but with a kind and caring side. This is a slight change from your typical gruff mentor which always seems to be the case in fantasy novels. I did feel that he left Kai alone too often, especially considering Kai is supposed to be “the chosen one.”

There were some religious/Christian elements to the story. It is probably best described as inspiration for the story, and regardless of your personal beliefs, you will be able to enjoy the book.

The novel details the journey of the hero, which takes him from one side of the country to the other. About three quarters of the book covers about a quarter of the journey in terms of the distance traveled. At that point of the story it almost had a ‘Lord of the Rings’ feel to it, where you look at the map and follow the story thinking “Wow they have so much further to go.” Then next eighth of the book covers the reminder of the journey with the rest of the book detailing what happens once they get there. This made the last ¾ of the journey feel rushed and I felt like I was missing out on what happened on that part of the adventure. But I guess it’s better to be left wanting more than wanting less.

On the whole the pacing is excellent, moving along fast enough to keep the story interesting, but spending enough time on each part of the story and having necessary slower moments as well.

The descriptions are excellent as well, there is plenty of detail to allow the reader to visualise the world, but not so much that the story begins to drag.

Overall I would rate this as an excellent book, 4 ½ stars. It is an interesting story that is different enough to make is somewhat original. The characters are excellent, and the world setting is exciting and original, especially the animal species that are in it. The many threads are written very well as are the descriptions. It was just missing that special something that would have made it a perfect five star book, but still this was an excellent story, that is well worth reading and I will be on the lookout for the next book in the series.

Rating 4 1/2 stars

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