Friday Review: The Merchant and the Menace (Seraphinium #1) by Daniel McHugh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kael Brelgson is a normal young man, living in a remote village with his innkeeper father and his brother. His mother is dead. Kael, like many young men living what they perceive as a boring life, longs for a bit more excitement. As the story opens, he has managed to convince his father to allow he and his brother to travel from their village to an Elven city to buy supplies. From there, Kael is thrust into a world of mages and magic, Chaos and Order, and the fabled Seraphim, created by the benevolent god, Avra, to guide mankind on their journey in the mortal world.

On the whole, the story is not bad. It is an epic fantasy quest tale, with good versus evil, a hero who is unaware of his role in the warfare brimming, and a cast of characters that are familiar. Kael has his world turned upside down in a matter of days, and is searching for answers. His brother is dead, he is being pursued by an immense evil, and no one seems to be who he has always thought they were, including himself. The world building is decent, although some things don’t always seem quite right. The characters, while essentially stock fantasy folk (mages, elves, kings, etc.), are given some flesh and a few stand out. Kael’s character may take the stubborn, defiant teenage boy a bit far at times. And Jasper/Ader, the older Seraphim, doesn’t always fit the role of protector and guide as well as he might. The story, when it is in action mode, moves along reasonably well, but there are long passages of info dump that get tedious.

However, the real reason I give this only three stars is the editing, or, rather, lack of editing. Self-published books are getting a reputation, and it isn’t always a good one. I am afraid this book isn’t going to help that. The author should have employed the services of a good copy editor. There are issues like “in the throws of battle,” where the word should be throes. And “the group moved on in a slow, rolling cantor.” They are on horseback and are cantering. “Her breath stayed slow and steady as a look of serenity shown on her face.” The look shone on her face, actually. The city is teaming, rather than teeming. Those are just a few examples. I’m not trying to say that traditionally published books have no errors, ever, but usually it is only one or two. Everything I’ve noted would have been caught by a decent editor. Nitpicking? Perhaps. But each time I encountered one of these problems, it pushed me right out of the story, and took away from the enjoyment. I can’t honestly say I will read any more of the series.

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