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An odd tale.

By Rhythm, author of Touch

Jul 28, 2018: (Note, four star score added after the fact as the author voiced his intent to remedy some of the flaws mentioned.)

Okay, this review’s a weird one for me. It’s rare that I ever encounter such a stark contrast of highs and lows in a single story. For that reason, I will abstain from giving it a rating, as I genuinely think this example defies that system. A part of me wants to give it a solid four point five, but another part knows that giving it anything above a three and a half would be ignoring some pretty glaring flaws. Okay, with that said, let’s go from the top.

Anyways, we start out on a grim coastline in the grim depths of winter where a bunch of grim men are awaiting the grim duty of kidnapping some slaves to make into someone else’s slaves. As you might have gathered, the story starts out rather bleak in tone. The perspective character informs us through his inner monologue that things weren’t always so dire before he got himself here, and unusually for such a piece, actually kinda manages to sell me on the idea. This is the first flaw I will note; that the first chapter, to my mind, isn’t particularly representative of what is held within. To be perfectly honest, it struck me initially as being edgy for the sake of it, and in that regard, to my view, it kinda sells itself short. Had I not been reading this story to write a review, for example, I likely wouldn’t have read past the initial chapter because of the impression it gave, and that’s a shame, because it was in the second chapter and onwards where the good character writing really began to grab me. This is, of course, at least partially a matter of taste. I may not go in for grim stories, but I’m sure some readers do, and to them, the opening chapter would have served as an excellent hook. This is another reason why I will refrain from adding a score to this review.

I did have some less subjective issues with it, however. There are a lot of moments where my immersion was challenged by one aspect of the writing or another, only to be brought back in by what is, again, some really rather skilled character writing. Unfortunately, however, the fact does remain that my immersion was repeatedly challenged. These issues ranged from small niggles like the continual flow of standard High Fantasy gibberish names which make getting into a piece more difficult because it forces you to memorize a glossary of nonsensical words, to more serious issues, such as plot holes. I often found myself asking things like “Why is this incredibly paranoid and security conscious organization not bothered by a guy very obviously staring in through their windows for the last several days” or “Why is the woman who had her tongue cut out still fully capable of speech?” (This was a fairly serious one for me, because apart from that inconsistency, I actually rather liked Ellyn as a character. She’s proactive and capable without being overpowered, and I like that) While these problems are reduced in density as the story goes on, it did still take me out of it me a little, especially at the start.

The prose itself is quite well constructed. There are occasional issues with missing words or punctuation, but overall, it’s quite passable. I could say similarly for the plot. It has some very interesting reveals and twists, and as it ramps up, actually becomes pretty exciting.

To be honest, the feeling I got the most from Exiles was of a DnD campaign put to paper. Every character, while rounded and interesting, seems to possess a powerset taken directly from a fantasy game character creator. The barbarians use heavy weaponry, the bard uses charisma and music to woo crowds, and the wizard walks around with a familiar and requires material components to make his spells work. This isn’t innately a bad thing, by any stretch; I just found it slightly odd.

All in all, Exiles really isn’t a bad read. It has good characters, an interesting setting, and a well rounded cast; and while my personal enjoyment of it was hampered by some aspects of the storytelling, it’s entirely possible that other readers’ won’t be. For what it’s worth, check it out, you might like it.

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By TheresaUber, member

Apr 16, 2018: I am really loving this series! Dark, yes, but seriously compelling.

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It’s Grim. Good. Check it out.

By Typist Kid, author of The Zone

Mar 14, 2018: I really liked the pdf format. The only thing that was annoying was having to go to the main site each time I wanted to read the next chapter. But this is some nicely written fiction.

Dark fantasy. I got that feel in the first chapter. The grimness comes through nicely. The cast is nice, and well . . . damn it, I’ll just tell you what I think.

Now this story is not amateurish. I should probably not speak with negatives, but I don’t know how to properly express my views.Take this with a grain of salt, I guess. As every review must be taken.

I think the author put a bit of work into it, judging by the pictures each chapter, or issue. Because well (I’m going off my own experience here) drawing, sketching, painting all takes time, and effort, and so does finding an artist if you can’t do it yourself. This means the author is personally invested, and I like that. Though, I’m guessing here. I don’t really know the author, so I can’t be 100% sure. Yet, this is what my gut tells me.

Now the cast is not one dimensional. I can tell you they have their quirks, yet they aren’t exactly the oddest bunch. All of them are pretty nice to read. They have flaws, as any believable character should have.

The World is realistic. It’s fantasy, and the species (Elf, halfling, etc) do good in portraying that. The author does good in portraying the species as well. I also like the different approach to magic. It’s not earth-shattering, but the small things do matter. It makes the World a little more different, a bit more unique. And that by itself, makes it stand out to the reader. And, I can tell you, there aren’t any disturbing things in it. It is dark yes, but not the sort that makes you get chills up your spine.

But be warned, this isn’t a light read. I’m not about to have you think different.

Altogether, it’s pretty much solid. It won’t sweep you off your feet if that’s what you’re looking for. But honestly, those are pretty damn rare. This is a good book, and I recommend it to those out there who are looking for a casual read. Well, darkness included of course.

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