|Submitted by Christopher Ware|
(May 15, 2001)
(Journeys of the Catechist, Book 1)I very nearly gave this book three stars. It is such a light, non-involved story that it didn't really capture my imagination as other fantasy books do. However, I was forced to give it four stars because the main character, Etjole Ehomba, is one of the most unique and vivid characters I have ever come across. Unlike most protagonists in fantasy, Etjole's first reaction to a threat isn't to draw his sword and attack. His first reaction is to sit down and have a calm, rational talk with whoever or whatever is threatening him. This makes for some very interesting scenes. Only when all else fails does he draw his sword. Etjole basically "makes" the entire book. His quiet, introspective view of the world around him makes the reader think about how stereotypical and common most fantasy protagonists are. We realize that the formula is getting stale and that new characterizations can be quite enjoyable. Now, as far as the rest of the book is concerned, the storyline itself I thought was a very intriguing idea. Unfortunately, the storytelling didn't live up to the plot's potential. It reminded me a lot of reading the Arabian Nights stories or Grimm's fairy tales. The main character stumbles upon a challenge, overcomes it relatively easily, and moves on until he comes upon another obstacle in his path. Over and over...it got pretty repetetive after the first couple of times. These various scenes in and of themselves were pretty enjoyable and vividly imaginative. I was just a bit disappointed in the execution. I don't know if this is how Foster normally writes since this is only the second book I've read by him, but I think it could have been done a lot better. If you're looking for a book that doesn't take much concentration or thought, but is a romping adventure through strange lands, this should satisfy your craving. Just don't expect anything along the caliber of Robert Jordan, Melanie Rawn, or George R.R. Martin.