Jul 30, 2015: Artoris is a fantasy story following a young man, Nik, and a number of his friends, who show up in the story one by one. It’s one of these stories that starts off with a simple set of ideas, but that the authors gradually add more and more detail to, and between the great characterization and slow unveiling of their fantasy realm, they sucked me in completely.
The main idea of the story lies in the tension between one group of people, those that can shapeshift into other species, both partially and completely (called ‘morphs’ in the tale), and those that can mind-meld with them and then control them (called ‘binders’). And if you think that having someone around that you can’t get rid of who can control you like a marionette is spooky, it turns out you’re not the only one. Nik grows up in a society where binders are very much in control, both of the government and the narrative (portraying themselves as necessary and benificient), but as the story continues, you find out that much of the rest of the world doesn’t share these views, and indeed consists of shapeshifters who live peacefully together with few binders to be found among them.
I loved the way the authors introduced and built up their characters, focusing alternate chapters on a number of them and developing their characters and their world along the way. Each chapter also includes lovely artwork, and I really enjoyed the chance to get to know the characters that way, as well.
The world they show seems simple at first, but as the characters meet and interact with each other, the reader finds that everything is much more complicated than it originally seemed. Nik, for example, grows up with the idea that binders and great and good people, necessary to ensure the safety of everyone, but eventually comes to doubt this as the reality of the rest of the world opens up to him, which adds to the interest and reality of the story, in my opinion.
The writing itself was engaging, with few typos to mar the experience. The website layout is clear and urges a reader on to the next chapter and the next, and I found that’s what I did, regardless of how late it got.
One thing I noticed that interrupted the flow of what I read was that some of the pictures and text didn’t seem to load correctly towards the end of Act 1 as I was reading it on my mobile device, but other than that, the reading experience was great.
I’d definitely recommend this story to anyone interested in original fantasy fiction, coming-of-age pieces (especially those in which the protagonist finds out that the world they’ve grown up in isn’t what they’ve been told it is), or just fans of good writing in general.
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