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Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Anti-Matter Chronicles 01 - Tranquil Fury by P.G. Thomas

Title:Tranquil Fury
Author: P.G. Thomas
Series: The Anti-Matter Chronicles 01
Read Type: ARC read
Stars: StarStarStar

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US

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Tranquil Fury is the story of six high school students who witness a strange accident which transports them to a unique world that they soon find is filled with dwarves, elves, and magic. Unlike most epic novels, where one character has a foreboding sense of the underlying currents, in the Anti-Matter Chronicles, the unknown has already embraced the resident characters as they wait to welcome the six new cast members. And it is with their insight, that the truth is realized, and the real threats discovered.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an unbiased review

Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Some, non-graphic
Sexual content: None

This novel starts slow, for the first chapter I wasn't engaged. A school bus, presumably travelling a country route, describing each of the kids as they are picked up. This left me  with an information overload, I was unable to remember all but the most obvious things about characters, ie
Big kid = athlete
Kid in wheelchair = disabled

The kids soon find themselves on what is clearly another world, just the six of them without the driver. Despite that they organise themselves very fast, accept they are on another world and put past grudges behind them. I liked that they didn't take the each man for himself, despite some having bad injuries, but I felt they were far too polite in a stressful situation. Every request was accompanied with a please, even time sensitive ones, like a medical kit to stem bleeding, the backboard to get one of their classmates free of the bus etc. I get that this is aimed at the YA category, but I would have liked to see more them frustrated at each other, the more able, or socially isolated, ones grumbling that they could be heading off to find civilisation by that point. That's how my secondary school would have worked anyway.

Soon came along a man from the world they were in, Mirtza. I instantly took to him, his unusual style of magic, his knack of taking things seriously, but most of all the way the POV, or point of view, was written. Generally speaking it was written from one of the kids' eyes, seeing him and his wagon as salvation, and the only man who knew what was going on, but then it would switch to his internal monologue, going into how he was just as confused as they were and didn’t know what to do next. "Three years ago, I was a simple farmer's son, growing roots, feeding pigs, and chasing girls. […] So now, I am heading towards an unfamiliar area, to meet strangers, elves of all things." It is refreshing to see the leader, or rescuer of the party be as clueless as the rest of them, as opposed to the Gandalf model.

Soon Elves and Dwarves are brought into the picture, along with some of the kids starting to get unusual powers. The Elves and Dwarves speak strangely, although in English, it is kind of like picking up an Olde Worlde book with lots of statements such as thou hath, or words in a different order to standard modern English. While this is understandable, and even enjoyable as to how it established culture and history in the world. However, when long speeches are given in it, particularly ones you need to understand to understand the story I did get frustrated. It was like being back in English class studying Shakespeare for the first time, trying to make sense of the words so I'd understand the story. Eventually you do get used to it, but, to paraphrase one character, you feel like you need to sit in front of a mirror and talk normally for half an hour to get your brain back in twenty-first century language. How the author managed to switch between the two so seamlessly I don't know!

The first two thirds of this book largely take place in the dwarves stronghold, yet despite that it never felt stagnant. There was always a mystery, tantrum or story to be told to keep your attention. What initially looked to be a fairly empty place with only a few dwarves named turned out to have great depths. I'd have been content to learn more, especially about the other dwarf clans, I hope that crops up in the future books.

Later on when a big group set out on a mission I felt it was a bit repetitive.
Travel for a while
Hit dangerous situation
Guards plan to put lives on line to keep kids safe
Kids defeat danger behind guards back with powers they have been developing

I felt the novel ended very suddenly, on a big cliff hanger, but it could have used a couple more paragraphs to help me assess what the situation was for each of the characters in the group. I felt out on a limb, even after re-reading the last page.

I felt this entire novel in retrospect was largely just to get the main characters into their final position. They could almost have just been teleported into it as the first chapter. Nevertheless I found learning the history and getting to see clues of how they change interesting. I feel the next novel in the series is the real meat though.

Due to the complexity of understanding characters I give this 3.5, but for the sake of reviewing sites I have to drop it to a 3

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