Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: 'Identity' by Samuel Alexander

Bermuda author Samuel Alexander has published nine books to date. He is also a musician, a poet and a composer. To read his blog posts produces a sense of longing to bolster the aspirations of this obviously gifted artist. He is immersed in his calling to write and it is time for his work to enjoy a wider readership.

Classifying Samuel genre for this new series depends on the entry point in the readers mind. The writing is fluid, richly painted and full of exotic concepts. There is a sense of an epic: the Book 2 further invites us to a strange and fascinating realm that is becoming more familiar with this new entry in the series.

The story soars the imagination, in part because the writing is so lush. Samuel names his many chapters after the characters in the story – Cherann, Shalini, Tree, Cortell, Drak, Lynton, Tilal, Janon, Queen Nafari, and Lela. To taste the flavor of this novel it is best to sample the eloquent writing from the opening page: ‘Another beautiful day in paradise. It feels good to be Atorathian. These were just some of the thoughts going through Cherann’s mind as she walked through the streets of Nera. She was a soldier of good ranking in the Keldonian army and hadn’t been on her home soil in a few months. She was looking forward to the solitude of the main city; maybe going through the garden maze at Leanor’s temple. Just taking in as much of the land in which she was raised as possible. Travelling had been quite an experience. She didn’t want to get stuck in the trap that the provinces were getting into: believing one was better than the other. In her mind, the best way to avoid the rut was to intentionally put her skills to use in another province and travel with people that weren’t her own. Being based with the Keldonians was something she had grown to love tremendously. They were very in touch with nature. It was no wonder that out of all the bad things said about the provinces, none were said about them. Somehow they never lost the understanding of the War of Beginning. As she entered a busy pub, she almost recanted her first thoughts. However, there was an empty table in a far corner where she hoped that she could drink in solitude. If she were lucky, no one in the town would recognise her. As she sat down, she was glad that even though people recognised her, they seemed happy to allow her the comforts of quietness in a noisy bar. In fact, she was so lost in her thoughts that she managed to down three mugs of ale before her peace was crudely destroyed. “Cherann!” She rolled her eyes and pretended not to hear this person. “Cherann. Don’t stare in the mug like you don’t hear me. You come back after months in the early hours and then slip away before morning break. And you’ve had drink without buying me one.” “Without buying you one? You’re a working man.” “But you’re a soldier of high standing. You make much more than a lowly farm assistant.” “An extra strong drought for the boy,” she said as a server approached the table. “So how are you, Dent?” “Just glad to see my sister. How was it this time?” “Great. I love it in Keldon. This is why I live there. Atorath will always be my home, but it calms me there. I feel whole.”

The story rambles a bit – and that is not a problem: it allows the reader to absorb all the elements of this strange place: Salinor is a fantasy land of peasants and magicians, the land of Atorathians, Keldonians and Mironians, populated by sorceresses, spirits, passion, lust, and a fervent desire to overcome the odds that threaten. ‘Sometimes to reach your destiny, you must change. Even if it means the death of a life you dreamed of.’
Recommendation? Read this novel and follow this young author closely. All the seeds are here, waiting to fully bloom. Grady Harp, January 18

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.