DEFENDERS OF MYTH: BEGINNINGS by Michael Gisman
Review and Cut by Shaggy Shepherd and Luke Winch
A young man, Kalend, raised in a militaristic monastery without ever knowing who his parents were, is forced to flee that home by Warlocks and creatures from the mists of those myths.
During his flight, Kalend comes face to face with a twin sister he never knew existed.
A young woman, Hollilea, raised in the mountains by witches to learn the art of magic from another world, struggles to realize her full powers while being hunted by monsters from legend.
Myths and legends have seeped from an unknown world into theirs…and they bring chaos. A hidden hand has yet to reveal itself or its true designs as it desperately seeks the siblings.
Brother and sister must unite, for only together can they face their true calling.
Only together can they face the darkness closing in on their world.
Luke: Epic fantasy is my bag, it’s my go-to in this genre and Defenders of Myth: Beginnings has all the ingredients that was needed to grab my attention. The blurb itself sounds sweeping in scope and epic in scale with all the tropes of the sub-genre, so I was excited to dig into this one.
This book began with great potential. A short, but atmospheric prologue really set the tone and an anticipation that the main story would follow suit. Unfortunately, I think the rest of what I read fell short of the potential and promise that this book held. I made the decision to DNF this book at 50%. I wanted to make it too at least halfway to give the author and the story a fair chance to convince me, but for me personally, there were issues which took me out of the story too much.
When I read epic fantasy, I expect a certain degree of depth and detail when it comes to worldbuilding, which I think is essential to immersion and connecting to the world and the characters that inhabit it. I felt that Defenders was rather scant on detail and depth, there was a vagueness to some of the history or back story, particularly in the case of our main protagonist Kalend, whose lineage is important to the plot. It all just felt a bit too basic, like it was a detailed bullet point list of events, rather than a rich and textured world.
The barebones of the story are there, and there are some fantastic ideas and races here. The Othureans, for example really intrigued me. But again, we don’t spend enough time with them to learn about their culture or their ways of life etc. It all just felt a bit rushed to me; we jump from place to place without any character progression or substantial world-building. For instance, there wasn’t enough time spent at Kalend’s home at the monastery for me to understand or empathise with him when he is torn away from that. Its barely a chapter before we are off on the quest. I would have appreciated a couple of chapters getting to know his mentor, his home and everything he knows, before we are ripped away.
This is the central problem for me. It feels like a whistle-stop tour of the map rather than this epic tale of myths and legend. The author writes well, I liked that his prose was easy to flow with and a couple of the characters were fun to be with and had huge potential. Louquintas, despite his rather forward approach to women, is a fun character. He has a charm and a swagger and world weariness that, despite being a well-used character trope, felt engaging. The character called Juliet is from a fascinating race called the Barnasea, who have unique racial traits and abilities with huge potential. Again, the author has a brilliant imagination, with concepts and ideas that bubble under the surface. It is just that the execution fell a little short for me. So, unfortunately, this is a cut.
Shaggy: I’ll be honest: I definitely judged this book by its cover and picked it as my next read based on that. I love horses and I love this art style so it just kept nagging at me to get started. Sometimes you gotta ignore your plans and go with the flow.
I usually like an action-packed prologue so I was surprised by how much I liked this really calm and quiet one. It was very endearing and put me in a good mood to start the book.
At the beginning, some of the dialogue felt a little awkward. I know the author was trying to introduce some history but it just felt a little off here and there. It was also a little bit predictable, though it was written smoothly so I couldn’t really complain. I do wish it was a bit deeper. It felt like a very basic epic adventure story for a while. I know this is a simplistic way of putting things but in this case I really would’ve liked a bit more show rather than tell.
Sadly, this was why I DNFed this book eventually. While there was a flicker of the details I like here and there, overall it lacked the depth I like for both character development and world building. It felt like as a reader I was being kept at a distance the whole time, unable to really immerse myself in this story.
If Defenders of Myths: Beginnings sounds like your cup of tea, check out the author on Goodreads, or hop over to Amazon to get your copy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Gisman lives in South Carolina with his wife under the Carolina blue skies.
An avid reader since grade school, he started with adventure stories and quickly moved into fantasy and science fiction. As a kid, one of his first favorite books was “My side of the Mountain” by Jean George. He enjoys sports, both playing and watching. He earned the rank of Sandan (3rd-degree black belt) in Shinshin Toistu Aikido. He also enjoys Southern BBQ and is a certified BBQ judge for the SC BBQ Association.
Some of his passions are collecting fantasy books, music, and the great outdoors. He also enjoys attending Renaissance festivals. Rush is his favorite band. He loves camping and sitting by the fire while looking at the stars.
…and at the end of the day, he enjoys relaxing on his deck while listening to music.