The Forsaken Earth: The Review

729572The Forsaken Earth; Paul Kearney, 2006; Bantam Books

Last week I shared my views on “The Mark of Ran: Book One of The Sea Beggar’s” and how impressed I was with the author’s use of words and ability to create characters and worlds that actually make the reader, part and parcel of it. Like Norman McClean of “A River Runs Through It”, Kearney’s level of creative literature is not often seen.

Now for book two – “The Forsaken Earth”. Again the author swept me off my literary feet with descriptive pictures of sailing, pirates and….war. Yes this one was full of war – fact is it was mostly war. And people dying and guns shooting and swords swording and lots of other things that, if truth to tell I, who can’t even bring myself to watch a documentary on WWII, had to wade through in order to finish the book.

So was I disappointed that Kearney wrote so much about death and dying and the senseless carnage that comes with men playing with dangerous toys? No. Again he didn’t use more terminology than my mind could absorb, neither did he spend anymore time on what was obviously a very pivotal part of the series than was necessary in order to establish that things are about to undergo a cataclysmic change.

He also appeased  my never-ending need to know that at some point in the third book, my thirst for revenge will be assuaged.

So if you liked the The Mark of Ran, grab a cold one and read The Forsaken Earth – but be ready to get really ticked off when you find out that you’ll have to wait for the ending. Why? Because the corporate monolith called Publishing ( namely Bantam Books) did a very naughty thing: they dropped the author and refused to release the rights to the series (until just recently).

Don’t know about you but when I read that I got a very bad case of; “The Injustice of Screwed Author’s”. Like the implied ending to Sea Beggar’s, my natural blood lust for vengeance took a turn for the worst. The very notion that publisher’s hold authors work hostage is beyond belief – and even worse, we let them.

How does that continue to happen?

Anyway, I will save my rant on the topic of “Literary Hostage’s” for another post. Suffice it to say that Solaris Books managed to get the right’s to the book released and expects to have the third and final novel sometime soon. Yeah for Solaris.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars I’m giving “The Forsaken Earth” 3.5 stars for story and Kearney 4 for being such a good chap and not writing nasty things about badly behaving publishers.

The Mark of Ran: The Review

The Mark of Ran; Paul Kearney, 2005; Bantam Books

A writer has less than five pages to grab my rather short attention span, unless they are someone like Terry Brooks who’s ten or twenty page introduction is almost always worth the wait. Paul Kearney managed to do it within two, by using the theory less is more; at least in the beginning.

For the majority of “The Mark of Ran”, a first in what was originally intended to be a four book series, the author invests a considerable about of time developing his main character’s Rowen and Rol Cortishane – particularly the mystery surrounding Rol. And though I am not a sailing buff myself, Kearney’s well placed nautical terminology didn’t leave me lost and wondering in the wilderness of ‘guy stuff’. Instead it left me feeling as though I’d just finished a really enjoyable story and couldn’t wait to read Book Two; “The Forsaken Earth”

But this review isn’t really about the story or whether I like or don’t like tales written about sea pirates and confused young men. Rather its about style and whether the author’s writing should be lauded or panned. Since I’m not particularly fond of being mean just for the sake of being mean,  if this had been about a poorly written book, I’d either not have written a review or at least have watered down the criticism. But fortunately for all who read it, The Mark of Ran is not a poorly written book; if anything Kearney’s authorship is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Fact is, if I were to compare his ability to paint stories rather than tell them, I’d have to compare him to Norman McClean; author of “A River Runs Through It”. Which when you think about it is weird because McClean didn’t write fantasy and his stories certainly don’t rise out of the landscapes of mythology or Nintendo Game Boys (though theology was at the heart of at least the first one).

So why the comparison?

paul-kearneyWhen I read “The River Runs Through It” I was immediately struck by the author’s ability to describe fly fishing in a way that made me feel as though I was right there. As if I were the one casting the line, gauging how the current would carry the fly and what each ripple and swell of water meant. I became the character. I stood in that river, under an August sun completely melded with the moment. And it didn’t matter that I’d never been fly fishing a day in my life, or that I melt in temperatures above 72 degrees, or that I wouldn’t know a ‘Bass Popper’ from a ‘Sneaky Pete’ if one snagged itself in my pink Roper hat. All that was important is that the author did and he used that knowledge to immerse me in his experience – empowering me to make it my own.

And that is exactly what Kearney has done; used words to bring us vicariously into his experience and then invite us to make it our own.

Can’t wait to sneak off with the second book and spend the day sailing, drinking cheap wine and finding out whether Rol Cortishane is god or man.

On my reader’s scale of 1 to 5 I’m giving “The Mark of Ran” 4 stars for being a darn good story and 5 to Paul Kearney  for writing it so well I now want my own pirate ship.