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 Thirteen 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’s serial is The Open Road, a fantasy serial written by thelonewanderer.
The header image for the site is pretty breathtaking. The lighting and the composition are eclectic and the overall tone simultaneously conveyed wonder and rot to me. The forest in the image is a very old-looking one, lacking the characteristics of the meticulously planted forests that now cover much of the Untied States.
The author has opted to use both a header menu and a side menu for the site after the resolution has reached a certain size. Though I was able to find what I needed, I did find that the side menu felt cluttered, as there are a LOT of links there. This is likely due to the fact that the site hosts multiple serials from a couple different authors. The layout of the site did not distract me from the writing, and at the end of it the site did leave a good impression on me.
“The Gods are gone, or dead, or they never existed in the first place. Any alchemist with a reasonable education would agree with you here. I did too, for the first few dozen years of my life, I was certain it was the fiction of fools and tricksters. But after my travels through the Great East, I had to change my opinion of the matter.” –The Open Road, After the End-1.
I love this opening! The immediate nihilistic tone of it felt very refreshing for a serial based in the fantasy genre, but the fact that the narrator then rejects said nihilistic notions adds a level of character that is immediately charming. If I am to be completely honest, I felt a little cheated after I found out that the opening paragraph is supposed to be a quote from a fictional book within the serial’s setting. I personally have never been a fan of this kind of thing, I understand that it is a great tool for world building, and that most fans of the genre have absolutely no problem with it, but it has always annoyed me. It feels like I just started reading a really good book, and before I have the chance to get into it someone snatches it out of my hand and replaces it with another one that I now have to invest time into. With that said, the opening lines of the chapter after this were equally charming, so at least the switch was as good as the bait!
The characters the author presents are very colorful and VERY jaded. I found each player in the story so far to be interesting and worth reading about. Much of the chapter revolves around a shady deal. It is not clear to me what exactly is changing hands here, but its nefarious tone hints at something very unpleasant. There was just enough hidden information here that I was very willing to see what the next chapter would bring to see if it filled in the gaps.
Most of the prose is very clean with a few exceptions. The author had no spelling mistakes that I noticed, but there were some words missing or absent here or there.
Fans of traditional fantasy should find themselves very at home here, while those that maybe flirt with the genre occasionally will find its muddier tone alluring, maybe even refreshing. I would continue reading it, if only to find out what the two characters are bargaining for (a quatloon says its people).
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on mathtan’s serial Taylor’s Ploynomials, or check out my own serial: