A fantasy tale about people dressed as daggers… (no, just called Daggers)
Mature Content Rating: A-14 (for intense profanity & brief sexual content)
“Are you sure he didn’t just cast an invisibility spell?”
“I’m sure. I think he was captured, or maybe killed. I was supposed to meet him here.”
“So… you were playing hide and seek, and want my help? Sorry Ditani, that is a private game that I will not take part it.”
Okay, so none of this actually happens in Thread Slivers by Leeland Arta. Call it creative license, call in humour… or just ignore it if you didn’t think it was that funny. There is a lost mage in Thread Slivers, however, so… that’s a similarity. A newly promoted mage, Lebuin, is to go out into the world and find out new things about magic, and Ditani wants his help on a search & rescue missing. Also, there’s a hired knife and they meet up in the street… so that’s a thing.
You can tell while reading that Arta really knows his world. There is a lot of detail put into cultural and religious concepts, currency, the way people dress, etc. Within minutes of reading, the world becomes alive and believable. This isn’t just another case of throw some heroes in a fantasy world aaaaaaand go. The book even has a fairly extensive glossary at the back to let you know about Lands/People, Gods, Places, Titles/Positions, People and Things, and even an entire section dedicated to the currency. The books also includes two elegant, well crafted maps. Arta clearly spent a lot of time shaping his world and making feel alive and believable. I applaud the author for enormous time and effort put into this.
Never before have I read an e-book with pictures in it. I am sure that they are out there, and though I cannot comment on the effectiveness or quality of such, I can say that it work well in Thread Slivers. Each chapter is prefaced with a graphic which ties into the events to unfold. Each chapter has a title (seems to be less common these days) and a pre-graphic which builds the tension and excitement for what’s coming in the pages to follow.
At the beginning, every other chapter is from one of two character’s perspectives. Often times I have seen this done, and it almost feels like two completely different stories until a lot more pages are behind the reader. In Thread Slivers, right from the start, the POV changes with each chapter, they feel connected. As the pages unfold and more characters are introduced, Arta maintains the togetherness feel of the story. A few times when a chapter started I was thinking, “I don’t know anything about this POV character. Why am I looking through his/her eyes now?” Soon, however, all my fears subsided as the new POV blended seemlessly with a character I know about. POV changes are often done very poorly, but I felt that Arta did an excellent job at keeping the story flowing and together, regardless of whose eyes we are looking through.
The story is excellent, and I think that comes from the roots of a well-crafted world and the characters there-in. All of the characters have their own history, backstory, and personality because of it. The biggest draw for Thread Slivers is how complete the world feels, thus fuelling the plot.
This book sounds really good, so why only 3 stars? The biggest issue that this book has is pacing. You can tell, while reading, that Arta really cares about his world, his characters, and has a great story to tell. Because of this, the author describes the dress of every character, the exact look and shape of every weapon, giving a lot of detail that you don’t often see. Though this is not bad in itself, it does make the writing drag quite a bit. Another pacing issue comes with POV changes. Often Arta skips backwards to talk about something that was happening at the same time as the previous chapter, but from someone else’s perspective. This means that the story takes a lot longer to get off of its feet that was necessary, as Arta keeps pulling us back saying, “Wait, before we move on, you need to know x.”
I feel like Arta had so much of this planning and world-building set up, that the plot fell by the way side. Oh yes, there is a good plot, but you will have to read a lot of the book before it becomes evident. Once the plot is set, a lot of sections are skipped over simply to get the characters from A to B so that the story can go on. It feels very strange that there is so much backward movement for extra explanation of certain things and then, out of the blue, giant sections are glazed over while the author waves his hands and says, “stuff happens…. aaaaaaaaaaaand moving on.” Though fleshing out some of these sections would require a lot more words to be added to the book, that is not necessarily a bad thing if it keeps the pacing more solid throughout.
The author had so many concepts, characters, and plot points to fit into the first book that it doesn’t eve have an ending. Oh yes, you reach the last page, but in the last couple chapters, so many questions come up and none of them are answered that the reader is left not only hanging, but falling. I knew while reading that the whole plot wouldn’t be summed up by the end (based on the number of pages and the scope of the story), but I was at least hoping for some minor plot points to be concluded. I realize that the book is meant to be number 1 of a trilogy, and is being marketed like that from the start, but that’s not an excuse to leave something unfinished. My guess is that when it’s done it feel like a “this trilogy should have been one book” type of deal. If that means that your one book is the size of The Lord of the Rings, that is okay. (Side note: LOTR is just one book, not 3. It had to be split in 3 at the time of publication so that the binding would keep the pages together, because there are so many pages, and the technology was not up to snuff.)
If you love a world that feels real and alive and characters that draw you in, this book is for you. The author’s passion for his tale comes through, and a lot of thought has been put into this book. The writing style is magnificent, and if it weren’t for the giant pacing issues, this would have been a 5 star book. All in all, good job Leeland Arta, and I look forward to seeing how the story continues.
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