Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review - Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton

Nights of Villjamur
Series: Legends of the Red Sun (Book 1)
Mark Charan Newton
Spectra (2011)
Trade Paperback
464 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345520852


Murder, mystery, and magic ; a deadly combination, to be sure, but in the hands of Mark Charan Newton it becomes something altogether more entertaining then might be expected. And, while the prose, character development, and pace seem to lack perfect clarification the story itself is strong enough, the plot and characters creative enough, and the new concepts introduced intriguing enough to make this a better than average murder/mystery/fantasy. While I enjoyed the story a great deal there were some plot point, character development, and location problems that were somewhat disappointing. The strength of the back-story got lost in places – tell me more about Caveside, and the Garudas, and the banshees, and the coming ice age (winter/freeze) – and some of the characters’ actions were somewhat unexpected and sometimes illogical. For instance, during a visit with a prostitute, the last person to see one of the murder victims alive, an investigator dismisses a major murder scene clue (blue paint) even though he knows that she’s an artist. Another major plot flaw occurs when one characters’ anger over being overlooked for promotion forces him from the role of minor character to major antagonist. But we are told early on in the narrative that the position he envies have always been reserved for members of a particular race and he doesn’t qualify. The mid-story switch in character standpoint didn’t flow enough for me to overlook those failings. Now, with those flaws pointed out I must add that I was definitely entertained by Nights of Villjamur and while the faults are not quite glaring they may turn some readers off but they certainly did not distract me from the story. And, in the spirit of entertainment and in the telling of a good yarn I’d have to say that there are enough unique and creative ideas in the story to keep even the most jaded readers diverted. Fortunately for Mr. Newton, this first story in the cycle has enough fertile ground and potential to develop into a highly acclaimed series. Let’s hope he’s up to the task.

If you’re the type that enjoys dark fantasies filled with strange alien races, unpredictable magic, murder mystery, and light fantasy then Nights of Villjamur is certainly recommended for you.

3 ½ (4 for originality) out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Nights of Villjamur Extract

Fantasy Hotlist Blog Review

Strange Horizons Review

Author Website

No comments: