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The Autarch is Dead… Long Live the Autarch!

By SovereignofAshes, author of The Vorrgistadt Saga

Apr 28, 2017: Disclaimer: Before we proceed, I must reveal my bias towards this story and its author. I wrote an April Fool’s Day entry for this author and through that became quite invested in the story. I will try to maintain as objective a view as I can, throughout this review.

Summation: The Open Road is a wonderful fantasy story that exists somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between epic mid-to-low fantasy and typical swords & sorcery low fantasy. There are evil tyrannical rulers, chosen ones who are last of their kinds, tribal champions, explosive magical spells, and a fair deal of personally motivated violence. Oh, and an anti-hero as well.

First Impressions: This story starts to ease you into the characters and the plot-line for a few minutes and then grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. The pace is fast, but doesn’t seem jarringly so. The exposition is light and drip-fed only when you need it, which is a nice balance for an involved story such as this. There isn’t a lot of high-intrigue or political movements near the beginning which fits the personality of the protagonist quite well. At least the protagonist for this section of the story that is available thus far.

Content: The writing style has a nice finesse between spartan quickness and poetic depth. The writing sticks to the point of what is going on and doesn’t get lost on extraneous details. This is as much of a boon as it is a bane to the story. When I was reading it, I had a hard time picturing what the protagonist looks like or exactly what the setting around the characters was. Details of other characters are given, yet they are very sparse and archetypal rather than giving you a mind’s eye glimpse of the character. Some readers may enjoy this, others it may drive mad.

You can feel that the author puts a lot of energy into their writing. Sometimes this comes across explosively and well paced. There are other times, sadly, that the sentences or effect of them fall out due to word choice, or over-excitement. This seems to be more a slight difficulty in translating the ideas to a second language and can be fixed very quickly with just a few revisions and some extra editing. Not a problem at all.

The world-building is well-crafted and feeds you just enough details to whet your appetite for more. You are never deluged in too much exposition or detail. The author actually tries to tantalize you by dropping hints here and there and making you read to find out what pieces go where in the world. There are hints at a long history and great nations at war. Not even the secret of the Wielders is mentioned fully, giving a lot of material to build on later.

The characters are interesting although near the beginning of the story they seem to follow trope for the most part. Brachillio is a brash young man with a tragic history who must settle his own affairs as well as be burdened with the affairs of others. Some secondary characters appear and just as you get to enjoy them, they quickly fade away. Others linger for a time and then serve their purpose. Each character has their own personality and their own distinct voice. Sometimes they can ham it up in dialogue here and there, but it seems to cater to their personality more than anything else. The characters are still very enjoyable. If anyone is worried too much by trope, consider the characters of this story to be richly detailed versions of anime characters and you’ll enjoy them just fine.

The grammar of the story is very well done. There are very few spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that I could notice. What few do exist can easily be fixed with a quick revision. The author keeps the same writing style throughout the story. It is worth noting that the author has chosen to keep the British version of dialogue tags (single ‘ ‘s), rather than the common Americanized tags (" "s). This is a stylistic element and once you’ve gotten used to it as a reader it isn’t a problem at all.

This story shows a great deal of promise and I wait to read every installment, going forward. The story grows with every new chapter posted. The characters grow more detailed and more of the world is revealed throughout the plot. Any quibbles right now are due to the story being relatively new and can be fixed with some supportive comments by readers and a quick revision. The promise is high with this story and it will get better as it continues.

I highly recommend this story. Whether you are an aficionado of more mature western fantasy, or you’re interested in grabbing a high-energy chapter here and there in your spare time, this story delivers. I hope to see more from TheLoneWanderer in the future. This story has rightly earned 4.0 out of 5.0 stars from me. Tremendous promise, great characters, talented authorship, just a few language quibbles. If this story is revised, I will amend my appointed stars.

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