It's not often that I stumble on a novella length Fantasy novel, so you can imagine my delight when this one was offered to me for review. Even betterIt's not often that I stumble on a novella length Fantasy novel, so you can imagine my delight when this one was offered to me for review. Even better, this turned out to be a novella that I honestly didn't want to end. David Wiley has managed to execute quite the story in A Merchant in Oria, and it's impressive even without the small amount of pages that he's done it in. I tell you, this is an author to watch.
Firion is a great character. I was stunned at how much I instantly liked him, and how well fleshed out he was as the novella sped by. With dreams of wealth, and filled youthful vigor, he sets out to Oria to make a name for himself. Little does Firion know that he's riding right into the middle of something rotten, and a mystery that is so much larger than himself. Watching him battle with his conscience and even grow a bit throughout this, was so much fun. I could not believe how well his character developed in such a short time.
Better still was the world building that spanned this novella. Instead of feeling flat and rushed, Oria and its surrounding cities grew in front me. If you haven't already caught on, there is a lot to love about how much attention to detail there is in such a short span of pages. Wiley brings lizard-men and dwarves into the picture, wraps them in magic and intrigue, and does it all effortlessly. This was a fun ride.
Truth be told, I was sad when this novella was over. I'd love to see more of Firion, and find out more about the family that he came from. This is so worth your time. Check out A Merchant in Oria. You won't be sorry....more
First, a confession. I confess that I am shamelessly in love with Neil Gaiman. If you are worried that this will sully my unbiased review of this bookFirst, a confession. I confess that I am shamelessly in love with Neil Gaiman. If you are worried that this will sully my unbiased review of this book, worry not. In fact, this was my second read through of American Gods and, truth be told, I wasn't all that in love with it the first time I read it. Maybe it was where I was at in my life, or the current reading mood I had, but despite my love for Gaiman this book and I just didn't click. So, when I was offered the Author's Preferred Text version for review, I was eager to give it another chance. Oh, I am so glad I did. So, so very glad. This book is an experience. Brutal at times, beautiful at others, and full of things that will have you questioning reality. In other words, it's Gaiman. At his finest. I don't know why I ever thought otherwise.
Shadow's journey is a strange, and fascinating one. Whether you're familiar with the Norse Gods or not, Shadow will always be there to stumble right along with you. Here's the thing though, Shadow is infinitely more steady than I expected him to be. He's a character who, despite having done things in the past that he regrets, still believes in the inherent good in people. He walks around partially blinded to the world that he's found himself wrapped up in, and yet he never seems inept. I loved Shadow. Every single messy part of him. The book is long, this is true, but with Shadow as my guide I didn't mind one bit.
Then there are the Gods themselves that slither, flap and saunter through this book as if they own every page. Gaiman's broken world pits the Gods of old against the Gods of new. Odin and Bast against the manifested Gods of technology and progress. It's an intriguing premise. If a God is birthed and sustained through worship, why wouldn't we have birthed new ones that relate to cell phones, internet and music? Simply fascinating. What's more interesting than that though, is all of the underlying lore that is penned into these pages. Stories of Thunderbirds, coins that bring back the dead, and areas that shouldn't exist but do. It's so easy to lose your footing in reality and go crashing, right along with Shadow, into this world.
In an effort not to endlessly ramble on, let me assure you that this book easily made my favorites shelf this time around. As I mentioned, this is the Author's Preferred Text version, and actually contains quite a bit of content that was originally cut out. I think it's perfect. The story, the extras, the whole package is perfect. Pick this up! You won't believe how easily you can get lost in Gaiman's world. American Gods is well worth your time....more