Progeny by R.T. Kaelin

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Reason for Reading:
  • The author contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in checking this one out.  I agreed because I enjoy Fantasy and it was getting great reviews.

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Summary from GoodReads:

Nikalys and his sister Kenders grew up living a peaceful life in the quiet farming village of Yellow Mud… until the blistering hot day when they go to the nearby lake for a swim. When they reach the lake, they spy an unknown mage conjure a massive water creature hundreds of feet tall. They watch in horror as the water creature plunges toward their home, apparently drowning all in its path, including their parents and older brother, Jak. 

(Read the rest of the summary on GoodReads here)

My Review:

I don’t normally read and review self-published books, but when Mr. Kaelin contacted me with the pitch for Progeny (and after seeing numerous five star reviews – and a few one star) I decided to give this one a go.  My package arrived complete with Progeny bookmark and business cards and a bright, shiny, HUGE book.

Overall, I was not disappointed by Progeny.  On a scale of 1-5 I’d give it a solid 3 1/2 stars.  There were things that needed fixing, but there were some masterful parts of the story as well and, let’s face it, it’s hard work writing a high fantasy novel the size and length of this one.

In a way, Kaelin’s magic system reminded me of Brandon Sanderson.  It was thrilling, unique and very interesting and came across as well thought out.  A thorough explanation provided in the story, as well as an Appendix, helped with grasping its intricacies as well as made certain parts of the story even more astounding.  I think that the magic system was the best part of this book and will be enough to keep me reading to see if Kaelin has made improvements to the style of the story in Book 2.

So what needed improvements?  The length.  It was much too long, and much of that was travel time, endless repeating of the background of the characters (we know most of it, we don’t need to hear it retold), some editing errors here and there (pg 627, second to last paragraph for example), and the pace was just too slow.  It is possible to give the illusion of time passing without spelling out the endless meals, talks and flirting? of the characters with one another.  I felt as if there was this huge story just simmering beneath, this massive conflict, but the book gave me 500 pages of set-up with very little actual action that fit with the storyline.

And I don’t even want to talk about the history that came with the introduction of the character Nundle (whom I loved, the history lesson.. I did not).  That soon into the story, when the reader is so overwhelmed with everything, it just induces yawns and made me want to skip over the whole thing.

But I did love the characters!  I found Nundle to be perfectly cast, given that he’s a halfling.  I found Broedi to be intimidating and comforting at the same time.  I’m harboring a bit of a crush on Sargeant Trell, and I loved seeing Zecus come into his own. Sabine was a bit of an annoying distraction, I have to admit, but the addition of Helene made for some great comedic moments.

And most of all, the siblings.  I found the bond between Jak, Nik and Kenders to be tightly woven and I admit to even shedding a tear now and then when circumstances and fate seemed to want to play with them more than was necessary.

Overall, Progeny is a promising beginning for R.T. Kaelin, and I’ll be looking for his second book, with the hopes that some of the things I’ve talked about here will be addressed.  I’m sure he’s heard them from more than me – and as this was his first venture, it shows great promise!

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