Pros: Unusual; very strong world-building
Cons: Definitely some beginner’s mistakes
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Set in a world where justice is achieved through careful customs of vengeance, Laurel Anne Hill’s Heroes Arise explores timeless ideals: The pursuit of honor and justice and the right to love and family. In this debut illustrated parable, Laurel immerses readers in a foreign yet familiar culture as they join her characters on a fateful quest for honor and redemption.
It has taken me several days to get around to reviewing this one because I’m having some difficulty knowing what to say about it and how to say it. This is a fantasy novel about a kren and a human forced to band together to protect themselves and seek revenge against a mutual enemy, told from the point of view of the kren (a sort of humanoid warm-blooded lizard with two legs and four arms). Gundack, the kren, must take vengeance against Tarr for killing his wife before he can take a new wife. Rheemar, the human, claims to hunt Tarr as well, but seems to be keeping some secrets about why.
The world-building in this book is pretty darn cool. The entire tale is told slowly, moment to moment, in a way that focuses on the world, races, and traditions rather than the plot. In some ways this is good; the unusual biology elements, for example, can be pretty fascinating. However, at times it feels rather over-done, as if the book is trying a bit too hard to construct the perfect, seamless world for the reader. I suppose it feels as though the writer is a little too aware of the reader.
There are also details here and there that stand out as beginner mistakes: far too many bad guys like to say “prepare to die!” while attacking; it was hard to read the name “Gundack” over and over without giggling a bit (somehow reminiscent of alien names from old sci-fi books); and some phrases evoked unfortunate images (”Father Sun spread his pink and lavender robe wide”—it’s unfortunate when you’re left picturing the sun god as a flasher!). Gundack’s constant changing his mind over Rheemar’s loyalties was also incredibly annoying and repetitive—it seemed that it would have made far more sense for him to reserve judgment or gradually make up his mind rather than continually change his opinion back and forth.
There’s definitely a highly unusual talent at work here with regards to the world-building and the unusual ecology and biology elements. However, some additional polishing would help to take further books to the next level of enjoyment. I often found myself simultaneously having difficulty putting this book down, while yet frowning over things that just struck me a little… wrong.