The old adage goes that “you should not judge a book by its cover” and though it is a virtuous sentiment it is not one that is typically followed. Welcome to day Fifteen of my 31 Days of First Impressions Challenge! In this challenge I will be reading the first entry or chapter of a different serial (or web fiction) and then give my first impressions on them be they good or bad. In short: I will be judging a book by its cover.
Today I read The Vorrgistadt Saga by SovereignofAshes.
I had no problem navigating the site, and though it has a large amount of graphics on it (a header image and a static background image) I did not find them to be overwhelming. The header image reminded me very strongly of some of the older editions of D&D. Aesthetically the site is very pleasing.
Many of the menu tabs led nowhere, or at the very least have not been filled yet. This gave the site a sort of abandoned feel to it, and I found myself checking dates on the site to see if it has had recent updates. My own site was abandoned for a number of years before I breathed fresh life into it, so I do not mean this as a negative, but a new reader may not be willing to commit to reading if the site is perceived to be dead.
“Shimmering and cascading hues of reds, blues, and deep violets played a tranquil dance through the half-open crystalline-windowed doors. The light itself was quite dim, yet played at the edges of perceptible light with a strange and uncanny brilliance.” –The Vorrgistadt Saga, Arc One: In Places Dark and Terrible Episode O – The Shattered Oracle Chapter I – In the Refuge of the Azhemyra.
SovereignofAshes has a very beautiful style of writing. This hook did not demand my attention, but it sets a very sullen mood that feels ancient. I was not immediately addicted, but I enjoyed reading it and quickly wanted to see what world was about to be described to me.
SovereignofAshes’ prose continued to be both pleasant, and very well written. It is also, unabashedly neck-deep in its fantasy setting. This should be obvious in the title I attributed to the hook: “The Vorrgistadt Saga, Arc One: In Places Dark and Terrible Episode O – The Shattered Oracle Chapter I – In the Refuge of the Azhemyra”. Damn. There is a lot going on there.
I like my table top games, I have played many an isometric RPG, and I have dabbled in D&D, but my heart has always been in science fiction. Thus, this level of intense world building does take me a moment to get into and I often find myself overwhelmed in the details of everything. This chapter was no different in that regard.
There is a massive amount of world building off the bat. Though this can feel a little heavy at times, the author does a splendid job describing the setting. I honestly feel like establishing setting is the author’s strongest suit from what I have read. As such, I minded very little that there was no way that I was going to remember the dozens of fictional names and places that were thrown at me.
The author opted to use a written letter to act as the bulk descriptor for his characters motives and history. I found this to be clever, and enjoyed it as it felt natural. I usually do not like these type of things, but I found that it was an elegant solution to writing exposition.
Super fans of the epic fantasy genre will love this. It has deep world building that actually feels lived in, the prose is very good, and it looks like there are plenty of books to get lost in. It was a little much for me though. I get a nagging feeling that I might need a map or companion piece to navigate what I am about to read. For some, this is the best part of an epic fantasy series, but I like my one offs. Would I continue reading it? No, but not because of technical problems or because I was bored. I just want to state again that the author is a very skilled writer, but this may not be for me. If this sound like your cup of tea, I cannot recommend it more.
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on ChrysKelly’s serial Sanctioned, or check out my own serial: