The sky was yellow with a strange storm. That was their first sign. Their second, less subtle sign was the messages the ravens dropped at their feet. “You have been chosen,” they read, “for a life of great purpose. Adventure awaits you in the Hidden Lands.”
Now the four Barlow brothers are in the Hidden Lands, experiencing adventure to the point of nearly losing their lives. In this, the second book of the Legends of Karac Tor, they are entangled ever deeper in that strange world. It’s a place of magic, and it’s riding the edge of apocalypse.
Perhaps the thing that stands out most about D. Barkley Briggs’ fantasy world is how old and tired it is. There is not a person who doesn’t seem worn out by life, or a nation that doesn’t seem worn out by history. The black strands are stretched over many years and woven depressingly over Karac Tor.
Its legends trace some of these strands. Briggs writes the old stories of Karac Tor well. They carry the flavor of real myths – the same mixture of small details with brief, enormous assertions, the same uncertain boundaries between fact and fable. Karac Tor being a fantasy world, its legends are true.
One of them is, in fact, a character. This, and his somewhat unusual, ah, form, give him real flair. This is one side of his character. The other is muahaha evil. All the characters of Corus the Champion are strong enough to carry their roles, but it’s the second-tier ones who show most of the color.
Briggs deals heavily in the folk traditions of our own world. Arthurian legends are central to his story. His fairies are drawn more purely after the pattern in European fairytales than I have ever seen, and I saw a surprising number of gleanings from the Norse. Briggs plumbed the old folk tales and came up with his hands full.
I ought to mention that the Legends of Karac Tor are written in an omniscient style. I have no complaint against this, but some may say (reasonably enough) that it creates distance between the readers and the characters. One recommendation I would make to Mr. Briggs regarding his writing style is that he use fewer sentence fragments. It’s not always bad to write in fragments. The brevity can create emphasis. Pack a punch. But it can be overdone. Become problematic. On occasion.
Minor errors aside, I did enjoy Corus the Champion. It’s a journey we’ve all seen before – discovering gifts, discovering destiny. Briggs enlivens it with sharply drawn characters, with interesting scenery, with living legends. The word he shows is complex and old, its magic deep. About the religion in the novel I hope to write tomorrow; today I will say only that it is present, strong, and satisfyingly integrated into the story. Corus the Champion is a book worth the read.
Per the custom, here are the links:
The book (Amazon)
The author (Hidden Lands)
And the blog tour:
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Carol Bruce Collett
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson