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The Liar’s Law by EJ Spurrell

 

The sequel to Children of the Halo.

It’s been a month now since the town of Dunsmith, British Columbia has found itself stranded in the Pactlands, and the citizens have begun the process of learning to adapt to a new life. Having fended off the initial invasion by the nation of Vector, they now discover a new array of challenges rearing their ugly heads.

Now, the New Canadian Territories has made their voice loud and clear, drawing the attention of the entirety of the Pactlands, from Caede to faraway Shavi. The High Magus Council, the seat of law in the Pactlands, are now aware of Dunsmith’s presence, and they will stop at nothing to bend them to the will of the Pact. Not to mention the anger of Vector’s Emperor upon hearing of the defeat of his forces in the Disputed Lands.

But as the town forms a nation around them and begins to spread their influence, they find that not everything in the Pactlands is as it seems, because hidden in the highest reaches of the Pactland’s elite is a dark secret that threatens to tear apart the very world. The men and women of Dunsmith must now adapt not just their lifestyles, but their very core in order to survive in a world not their own.

Even worse are the trials they now face, because the High Magus Council isn’t all they have to worry about.

Note: The Liar’s Law is unfinished, with no recent updates.  It contains some graphic sexual content, graphic violence, and harsh language.


A serialized novel, with no recent updates

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Listed: Nov 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

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A modern town in a magic world

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Mar 9, 2013: What would happen, if your hometown was magically transported to another world? The citizens of Dunsmith, British Columbia get to find that out for themselves in this novel, a sequel to "Children of the Halo". The Dunsmith transplants have successfully defended themselves against an aggressor and formed alliances, but now "The Empire Strikes Back"!

Multiple plotlines immediately branch out from the point of view of different characters, some from Dunsmith and some native to this new realm. With each character, there’s backstory to be caught up on, and this all takes a bit of getting into. The large number of characters (not everyone in the town is mentioned, but we do keep abreast of the main movers and shakers) is especially difficult for the new reader. I assume this isn’t a problem for those who have read "Children of the Halo". The author has started putting together an "encyclopaedia Pactlandia" of nations and characters, which should help. It’s certainly an intricately imagined world, with distinct genres of magic (Geomages, Psimages, etc), complex politics (more than the usual feudal Kings), and unique fauna, some of whom are sentient (eg. the velociraptor-like Featherclaws).

In general, I like this story. There certainly are some interesting plotlines emerging, which I expect will all be knitted together at some point. There is one in particular that I am emotionally connecting with. However, I do seem to have trouble getting caught up in the flow of the story, in some chapters more than others. I noticed that the main characters that we are following all seem to be young single people, which feels a bit unbalanced, since a whole town was transported. Details are there, and yet I sometimes have trouble visualizing this world, and feeling the strangeness the transplanted people must be experiencing. Actually, the chapters that have worked the best for me are those written from the point of view of Pactlandians or Featherclaws observing and trying to figure out the newcomers.I like seeing aspects of our culture through the eyes of the inhabitants of the magical realm. Rumours of modern technology tend to initially be met with as much disbelief as magic would be in our world: "Stories of ships that cut through water faster than the wind blows also surfaced. Little boxes with which they could trap people to perform for their entertainment. Voices stolen from singers and placed inside circular discs, to be called upon whenever the mood struck."

Please note, Donna Sirianni’s 2008 review was written on a previous draft of this novel, and "The Liar’s Law" has since been revised and resubmitted. The technical problems Sirianni noted have been cleaned up, although a few of her comments about the effect of exposition and multiple plotlines/characters may still stand. But don’t be put off, as this series has a lot to offer for fans of otherworld fantasy. If the concept sounds interesting to you, my recommendation is to first sample the well-received "Children of the Halo", and if you are hooked, then eventually you will enter "The Liar’s Law" already invested in the people and fate of Pactland and its New Canadian Territories. Finally, I want to mention that the author, E.J. Spurrel, has written a thoughtful series of blog posts on the "A to Z for Indie Writers"; so far we have "Analytics" to "Reviews".

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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As you know, Bob . . .

By Donna Sirianni, member

Dec 11, 2008: ***Please note, having not read Children of the Halo, this story was reviewed as if it stood alone. The sequel note in the summary above was made after I posted this review and I missed the original, small, passing reference on the story site indicating this story as a sequel. My review was revised with that fact in mind but considering I focus mostly on the writing itself instead of the story, not much was changed.

I struggled with this story. I mean really struggled to get through it because I just wasn’t interested in what was going on. It didn’t have much to do with the plot per se but more how it was written.

The term "as you know, Bob" is used to describe statements in stories that are made to fill the reader in although it’s information the character on the receiving end of the speech should already know. It’s something that wouldn’t actually happen in realistic dialogue. Why would you reiterate something to someone when they already know what you’re talking about? Would they not look at you like you had six heads?

If it wasn’t an "as you know, Bob," they were strategically placed "what do you mean"’s or "what is that"’s. Way too many to be passed off as seamless or feasible. It just resulted in meandering info-dumps that seemed contrived at best. Considering the situations they were being said in (conversing with the enemy, for instance), they could just seem downright implausible. Why would the opposing side stop to explain how his two-way bird functioned in the middle of negotiations?

Then there are the saids. Said, said, said, said, said. Whomever said that "said" as a dialogue tag is invisible was a big fat liar. If used enough, not only is it not invisible, it’s nails on a chalk board. And 99% of the saids in this story were pointless. Really, there’s no reason to have "this character said" and "that character said" after nearly every single line of dialogue between just the two characters. Establish who’s speaking and after that, use tags only when absolutely necessary (not to be confused with actions). Plus, a lot of the dialogue occurred in voids, meaning there were large blocks of speech with nothing much else going on. A lot of times it ended up being two voices talking to each other in darkness than two feasible characters, in my mind anyway.

And the nodding. Those characters nodded so much they might has well been human bobble heads. There are many more synonymous words to use to bodily portray agreement or understanding.

What really bothered me though was the why and the how. Why was British Columbia on this foreign planet? How did it end up there and how in the world was everyone acclimating so easily, especially after just a month? For me there were just too many vague references to things that I didn’t have any kind of basis for comparison for and way too many plotlines caught in the middle overlapping each other. I had a really hard time trying to keep all of the characters straight and who was involved with who and who was doing what and how.

On top of all of that, I felt the writing was pretty lifeless. It was all telling, no showing. A story was being dictated to me. I didn’t get to experience it. I didn’t care for any of the characters and I felt like I didn’t know any of them after five really long chapters. I just felt like I was being bombarded with sterile information and was left wondering "what do I do with this?"

And this line really bothered me—"I like you enough that I’m going to put it all on the line, wear my heart on my sleeve and put myself out there."

I still don’t know if the onslaught of cliches was intentional by the author to sort of mock the moment (not likely considering the tone of the rest of the story, at least from what I got) or if it was supposed to be purposeful by the character, diving deep into cliches because he was that type of character (I really don’t know since I don’t know the character).

Or what worries me most is that these words were the best that could be used to describe the character’s feelings and were thrown in there to try and get the reader to understand the character better. It’s the potential for the seriousness of that line that gets to me. I’m all for the use of cliches if well-disguised but if that isn’t intentional, then I would highly recommend the author dig a little deeper than the surface of cliched human speech to come up with something a little more creative and original in order to portray one character’s feelings for another.

It just seems . . . lazy, as if the author couldn’t come up with anything else so instead relied on cliches to get the point across. This is the most blatant use of them (next to the nodding) but there are others.

However, I think there are some really interesting concepts buried in here, like all the different types of magi. I wish I’d actually seen some of that instead of off-handed references clouded over by after-the-fact details that don’t really mean much to me because I’m coming to the party late and things are winding down. I wish the world itself was used more as its own character instead of just as background fodder that the characters play in front of. Not to mention it lacks focus within the chapters themselves. I think everything would have been much easier to digest had multiple pieces of plotlines not been lumped together in single posts.

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