Saturday, February 3, 2018

Book Review: 'The Eleventh Ring' by Tom Hoffman

Alaska author Tom Hoffman comes to young adult (+/- children’s) literature with a degree in psychology from Georgetown University and a BA in Oregon College of Art. Tom’s career has embraced being an artist, a graphic designer, and now an imaginative writer. Having read his Book 1 of his Orville Wellington Mouse series, beginning his earlier series the Trilogy -THE ELEVENTH RING, THE THIRTEENTH MONK, and THE EVENTH MEDALION - brings even more pleasure – the retrospective sort.

Tom takes a chance with this book, stepping into science fiction using animals as characters, and it works very well indeed. One of the reasons the story hangs together so well is his well-considered anthropomorphic stance of his characters. Without stooping to the cuteness of today’s high money making films of animated stories, Tom keeps his level of sophistication very high indeed. His prose is luminous and makes the pleasure of reading the story all the more satisfying – adults can enjoy this book as well as teens, and for teens it presents a fine adventure tale in the language of sophistication that hopefully will replace the current acronym mode of communication fostered by the Internet and media!

For example, Tom opens his story thus: ‘A gentle breeze carried the delicate fragrance of ten thousand newly bloomed orange blossoms across the balmy summer air. It was far too early in the season for the trees to be bearing fruit, but the intoxicating scent of the blossoms floating through the grove was more than enough to satisfy Orville Wellington Mouse. Besides, strolling alongside Orville beneath a gloriously radiant summer sun was his best friend in the world, Sophia Mouse, and that alone made him supremely happy. Sophia had moved to Muridaan Falls only one year ago, dropping like a bossy know-it-all gift from above into Orville’s life. He was drawn to her immediately, even though at first blush it would seem the two mice had little or nothing in common.’

But before Book one of this trilogy Tom maps the course woof what we will expect: ‘The Bartholomew the Adventurer Trilogy is a romping tale of adventure set in the far distant future after humans have vanished from the planet. The protagonist is a self-centered rabbit named Bartholomew who sets out in search of a missing object which he is unable to describe or name. Along the way he meets his adventuring companion, Oliver T. Rabbit, a brilliant scientist who also undergoes a deep transformation in the trilogy, coming to understand that there is no magic, only science, whether it’s time travel, parallel dimensions, manifesting physical objects with thoughts, or reincarnation. Their adventures take them to lost cities, parallel universes and other planets, along the way meeting a host of memorable characters including ancient robotic rabbits, the Tree of Eyes, the Singing Monks of Nirriim, the Blue Spectre, and Edmund the Explorer.

The tight synopsis gels the tale well – ‘Sent to the Cavern of Silence by his servant Parfello, Bartholomew Rabbit begins a quest to find the mysterious Great Gem. He is aided along the way by the Tree of Eyes, the nefarious Skeezle Brothers, and his new best friend Oliver T. Rabbit, a renowned scientist working for the Excelsior Electro-Vacuumator Corporation. As Bartholomew’s self-awareness and magical shaping skills grow, his quest transforms to a search for his dearest childhood friend, Clara Rabbit. To save Clara from certain death, he must defeat the evil and powerful Zoran the Emerald Shaper, wearer of the dreaded Tenth Ring.’

Titillating? Yes, and all the more so as the reader becomes involved in this highly imaginative interplanetary sci-fi little tale. This is a very successful series. Grady Harp, August 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.