I used to be a big fan of fantasy and science fiction books back in a day. I read a ton of books by David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, R. A. Salvatore, Janusz A. Zajdel and countless other authors. I’m still completing my collection of Discworld books, and trying to find some time to read the monstrous (1000+ pages) Lód by Jacek Dukaj. When Pragmatic Bookshelf released their first non-technical book, “The Seed of Hope”, I thought it might be an interesting venture – fantasy book by technical publisher.
We get quite a standard story, variations of which I’ve seen many times, so if you’re expecting some revolutionary plot… there isn’t any. We get the variation of an usual tale of an orphan child going on a trip to unveil its destiny and save the world along the way with the small help of some friends and their magical talents that they learn as they go.
That in itself is not a downside by any means, the whole Belgariad saga (five books, 500+ pages each) are basically following the same idea, with Malloreon (yet 5 more books) reiterating it once again, and I had a blast reading them, although it was close to ten years ago.
I didn’t have a lot of fun reading The Seed of Hope though. First of all, the book is short – less than 300 pages, and it feels like a 700 pages book stripped of content to fit on the limited number of pages. This in turns forced the author to take a lot of shortcuts, not go into a lot of details, and as a result of that – the whole story feels flat. The world is pale, the characters shallow, and the storytelling just scratches the surface of the potential of the world. We don’t get to know the characters well enough to really understand their motivations, and their actions often felt random to me. The big story turning point when good characters crosses to the dark side felt naive for that very reason.
So we end up with a mediocre book. Not a bad one, as it has all the required parts, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I think especially younger readers will find it worthwhile. On the bright side, it motivated me to pick up that Carpe Jugulum, that I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time.