It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I have a treat for you! The author of this book is a friend of mine from San Diego, and his book is definitely one I would recommend…

 

Sons of Chenia

Chenia is a land torn apart, the victim of decades of civil strife, rising drug abuse and widespread corruption. The resulting trend is wave after wave of its people fleeing its shores in search for better lives elsewhere.

SOC Cover

In the midst of this years-long refugee crisis, five young men – friends forged by common experiences and circumstances – receive word that a relative has fallen ill. They journey back to their homeland to visit this sick relative only to find their country on the verge of invasion. With no military or police force to call their own, these friends must band together with locals to form a resistance and make a stand in one town before a superior foe overruns their land once and for all.

 

My Review: 4 Stars

The book has a very Tolstoy-esque feel to it. It has the depth of characters, narrative, and emotion that made Tolstoy’s books so appealing. It also has a very distinct “Russian” flavor to it.

The characters are well-developed, the culture is rich and diverse, and the book delves into a wide range of deep subjects. It’s a fantasy novel, but it takes a very realistic look at the way certain peoples, races, and religions have been marginalized and mistreated by others. Definitely a book worth reading!

There are a few issues, however:

Tense problems. In a few places, the book switches from past to present and back again for no reason.

Word repetition. Many paragraphs feature repetitive use of the same word, excessively so, in my opinion.

Lack of pronouns.  It’s all “Tobin (for example) did this and Tobin did that” when it would have been easier and smoother to use a few more pronouns.

Heavy narrative. I felt the narrative was a bit ponderous and overstated in some places. In my opinion, the narrative could be trimmed by 20% (in terms of sheer word count) and it would still be good.

Despite these few issues, the book is DEFINITELY worth reading! If you like a more descriptive, narrative-heavy writing style, you’ll love this book.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Thank Ada for the stars.

Fyodor looked up at the predawn sky. Directly above, the black of night loomed. Like crystals the stars sparkled. With their patterns still visible, Fyodor was able to identify the constellations. The most recognizable was Ada’s Staff, a long line of stars with a crook at the end. Spanning from west to east, Fyodor learned from Dmitri that nomadic Chenians would use it to guide their journeys from the Frontier across the Sacred Plains to the Green River and beyond. Below Ada’s Staff was The Herd, a cluster of stars said to resemble a herd of wild horses racing straight ahead at full gallop. Fyodor could not make out such a resemblance. Nonetheless, he was always able to find the constellation. To the right of both of them was the Voja Trout and above that one was the Warrior Maiden, a constellation said to grant good luck on the eve of battle to those fighters that could find it.

Fyodor’s head tilted lower. Bordering the vaulted ceiling of the night were tones of violet and indigo. Below those dark shades, hints of orange and red shone on the horizon. Fyodor closed his eyes, took a breath and paused. When he opened them he imagined seeing these layers of sky for the first time. Knight’s Harbor was never like this, he remembered. The early morning was always blanketed in fog. Even when it lifted the sky still held hues of gray. But this, this is so much more. It feels right to look upon this sky, amongst these trees and boulders. It feels like, well, it feels like home.

Holding a graphite stick, Fyodor turned his attention back to the sketchpad in his lap. Katerina had packed it in Nicolai’s saddlebag, but Nicolai allowed Fyodor to use it, knowing how much he enjoyed writing and sketching. At first, Fyodor had hesitated using the pad. The pages were sheets of crisp, tan paper. Except for a few stanzas that Nicolai had written in characters that were foreign to Fyodor, the pad was blank.

But on their second night, the five of them had escaped the overcast skies of the coast to begin their ascent through the Casabbian Mountain Range. Much to Fyodor’s liking, one of Sergei’s books had a series of maps in them, even more extensive than those of the ship captain Fyodor had befriended on their journey across the Tartic. The book, Greater Chenia, had a number of ornate pages filled not only with maps but with detailed drawings of valleys, mountains, rivers, wildlife and vegetation. Sadly, some of the pages in the back were missing, having been torn out by a previous reader. Fyodor suspected that the pages had drawings of the constellations, since the surviving pages just before the torn had described them. Using those snippets of detail as a guide, Fyodor had offered to take the first watch on their second night, resolving to sketch those he could identify.

That night had been productive enough. Fyodor managed a rough sketch of the night above and had identified five constellations. But the third night was strewn with clouds while the fourth brought gales and showers. On the fifth night, Fyodor tried to resume his drawing where he had left off. But after two days of not seeing the night sky, the stars seemed foreign to him, so he found himself starting a different sketch. Now on their sixth night, Fyodor was feeling more confident of his star map, almost proud.

His efforts were helped by Dmitri and Nicolai. Dmitri, who had not spoken much to him on their oceanic voyage, exhibited a wealth of information on the night sky. During their nightly watches, Dmitri would often take over when Fyodor felt drowsy. It was during these shift changes that Fyodor would prod him for information on the stars. Dmitri had been able to point out every constellation listed in Sergei’s book, and even some that were not. Even during the day, Fyodor would find his friend looking up at the sky.

Dmitri’s reading of the stars proved invaluable to the trip. In fact, Fyodor felt that the five of them did not need to refer to Greater Chenia, except to verify Dmitri’s claims. It was Dmitri who would spur his mount to the head of their column and point the way. Every pass, every game trail, grove of trees or spring seemed to be known to him. He was so certain that Fyodor could have mistaken him for a local guide.

The rest of them were not so blessed except for Nicolai, who would on occasion stray from Dmitri’s course to point out an alternate route or campsite. Although he dutifully followed Dmitri like the rest of them, and would share their looks of astonishment when Dmitri would seemingly detect the right path, Fyodor noticed a glimmer in his eyes at moments, as though he was remembering a previously forgotten fact.

 

About the Author:

Joshua Rutherford has wanted to be a writer all his life. Through college and the more than dozen jobs that he has had, his passion for the written word has never ceased. After crafting several feature film screenplays and television pilots that were never produced, Joshua tried his hand at writing a novel. Sons of Chenia is the product of that effort. When Joshua is not writing – which isn’t often – he is spending quality time with his wife, Elisa. The two currently reside in San Diego, CA.

Find the book on Amazon: amzn.to/1ArEzg9

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