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Very recommendable

By Airship, member

Aug 23, 2008: DISCLAIMER: – CoH is still updating, and therefore my review might be subject to change. – I’m affiliated with the story since I scan the unpublished chapters for typos. Some people might consider my review biased because of this. -This review contains minor spoilers.

I bumped into Children of the Halo by pure chance, to be honest. I was in a fantasy mood, and tried to find a serial I had read a few chapters of a few months back before stopping. Somehow I found CotH instead, and to be honest, I don’t even remember where I found the link to it.

Let’s just get one thing straight: I do not regret my random clicking. Not at all.

At first, I was going to go back as soon as I noticed I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, but then I noticed it was fantasy, which suited my current mood well, as previously mentioned.

I started reading the short blurb in the (middle?) sidebar, just to get an idea of what the story was about. As the inpatient creature I am, I skimmed through the first paragraph and decided it was pretty standard fantasy; political intrigues, magic and ancient evils. I then jumped to the prologue.

After reading a few paragraphs of the prologue, I still held that opinion. It was all very generic fantasy, stuff I’d already read elsewhere. It didn’t seem very interesting at all, really. I even started skimming, and then I gave up and clicked on chapter 1 instead. "Prologues are so vague and unimportant," I thought to myself.

It didn’t take long before I realized that I shouldn’t have skimmed the blurb. This wasn’t ordinary fantasy, this was dimension shifting fantasy! Of course, there’s certainly not a lack of those either, but it definitively struck a spark in my enthusiasm for the story. It wasn’t very generic anymore.

Suddenly, Chapter 1 was finished, and I felt the need to read more. I went back to the prologue, which suddenly felt a lot more important than before, read it, and then threw myself at chapter 2. As I finished chapter 15, I noticed the 10 minutes I had wanted to spend checking up on a fantasy serial had turned into me reading through the entire night, and I got that empty feeling you always get when you can’t continue something you enjoy. Later that day, I noticed a sixteenth chapter had been added. I wolfed it down, and noticed for the first time the update schedule. 3 times a week with chapters of this size? Brilliant.

Okay, I should stop talking about how much I liked the story, and move on to why I liked it as much as I did.

Let’s begin with the style of writing. Spurrell manages to describe the surroundings well, without being overly descriptive. The balance here is perfect. The true beauty of Spurrell’s writing, however, is the character interactions. You feel as if you’re standing right next to the characters, listening in on their conversations. It just feels real and believable, and it really immerses one in the story. The story itself is told through the perspectives of several people. At first, I thought the immense amount of characters and personalities to relate to would be hard to keep track of, but to my surprise, when everyone was introduced, I could still tell them apart easily because of the character interactions.

The story about the city who finds itself in a new world filled with fantastical enemies isn’t bad either. The premise is fairly simple; A real world city suddenly finds itself stranded in an alien world, and worse, it lands on an evil country’s interests, while a prophecy works its magic in the background. It’s interesting enough, but the story shines because of how it is told. The characters are believable and real. I’ve actually grown quite fond of some of them. Bayne is always a laugh. The world is also very believable and filled with lore, myths and interesting creatures. Explanations for these come in a pleasant stream, readers aren’t smothered by them.

Technically speaking, the site is ok. It’s nothing too fancy; a standard blog format with links at the right, with the story at the left. The style is simple, and the colors used make it easy to read. One neat function to mention is the Engines of Creation Wiki, which in time will be a large encyclopedia featuring every nook and cranny of the book one can imagine. At least this is the idea, but it’s not nearly complete yet. I especially like the gorgeous painting of Stone’s Mouth one can find there. This can be seen in the prologue as well, but in less resolution. I like it better in the wiki, and hope to see more articles illustrated like that.

In this sea of endless praise, is it possible to find something negative to say? Why, yes, actually.

Especially in the first few chapters, there were a few references to brand names. I would have preferred to see neutral references instead. That being said, it was easy enough to just overlook them, and in some cases, they actually increased the feeling of realism. The chapters are also plagued by evil typos. Not many, maybe 2-5 in each chapter, and never grammatical typos. Am I nitpicking? Yes! But an objective review need some negatives as well, and these were the only ones I could find so far. Seriously.

All in all, I highly recommend Engines of Creation: Children of the Halo to anyone who is a fan of fantasy. If you’re a fan of alternate worlds/dimensions as well, all the more reason for you to read it!

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