Independent Author Spotlight: Joseph Macolin0’s The Birth of Death

The Birth of Death by Joseph Macolino is a fantasy novel in the tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. It has enough common fantasy aspects to seem familiar with enough that’s new and different to make it original.

The Good

Macolino does an excellent job with world creation, and he doesn’t spend too many words to do so. Part of that is most readers are familiar with elves and centaurs, but even the less familiar peoples are quickly understood and grasped. If the reader gets confused, there is a glossary to help.

The author also developed characters to a reasonable depth. The four main characters, an elven couple, a centaur, and a cat-like creature are all multi-faceted, and the reader can understand the nature of each and empathize with each. The heroes are not overly perfect.

Macolin0 also handles action sequences well, particularly the battle and fight scenes. He describes the movements of each participant without slowing down the action of the fight. In general, the plot flows well, and the book is a good length.

The Meh

Some scenes take too long. For example, a large number of words go into an elf making a salad. Descriptions of beautiful female characters were overwrought. Readers who don’t like too much gore or violence may find the battle sequences overdone.  Occasionally, the plot stutters so to speak. In the final battle sequence, there is a change of circumstance affecting the main supernatural hero, the Avatar, that doesn’t quite make sense to me. Some areas need editing.

The book touches on several themes that are left open. These topics are authority and tyranny, community and individuality, government control and liberty, collectivism and free markets, dependence and personal responsibility.

Analysis

The book is part of a series, and I am sure many of these themes will be developed further if the close of this book is an indication. The book is a good read. A fantasy reader looking for a new series to start may find a good one here.

Independent Author Spotlight: Christopher Villanueva

The Gates of the Frontier Universe: A Society Called to Arms is an intense space opera by Christopher Villanueva. Original and imaginative, it is an action packed book and part of a longer series.

Strengths

A key of Sci-Fi is world creation, and Villanueva does an excellent job. The world (or better described “universe”) that he creates exists in parallel to our own and once interacted with our own while maintaining interest in it. The Galactic Court is like a confederation of peoples and planets that must rise to face the threat of an unknown enemy who turns out to be an old one. Despite the fact that action begins with a back-story, Villanueva develops the back-story with minimal intrusion into the present storyline, yet with clarity.

Villanueva is excellent at describing action sequences, and the novel does not suffer from a lack of them. The book is like an action movie. While most characters remain on the surface of development, some, such as Reed, one of the main characters, have some depth in development. The author manages tension and suspense well.

Weaknesses

My most common complaint about independent authors is length—usually too long. While I grant that Sci-Fi/Fantasy needs more pages to allow for world development, this book goes beyond that. There are too many characters, too many worlds, and too many action sequences. Also, sadly from my perspective, the evil characters are more entertaining than the morally sound ones.

Analysis

If you want an action-filled space opera and are an avid reader who reads a great deal, this book (and series) are probably for you. If not, then perhaps a classic Asimov, Bradley, or Clark novel would be better.

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author for review purposes. I was under no obligation to give a positive review.