These random ramblings and author musings are designed to entertain, though they might drag you kicking and screaming through my daft indie publishing journey. If you are somehow inadvertently informed, or if you have discovered something useful within, well then . . . count that as a jolly coincidence. Thanks for reading! (header background - Sky_18 Free Texture #133 by Brenda Starr)

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Word of the week: delve \ˈdelv\ - verb - 1: to dig or labor with or as if with a spade; 2a : to make a careful or detailed search for information; b : to examine a subject in detail – (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Although I have become online friends with the author, I bought Robert Evert's Riddle in Stone because: 1) it sounded interesting and, 2) I wanted to help support his writing endeavors. Those who know me understand that I don't—nay, can't—review on a whim; I have to truly enjoy a novel written by a Writer's Beat member before I even consider giving it a Writer's Beat Quarterly review. So, that said:

Book Review: Riddle in Stone by Robert Evert

Novels are tough to complete, tougher to find an agent for, and sometimes even tougher to sell to the right publisher. Many would-be writers don't even get past rough draft editing and their manuscripts languish, with characters and story worlds withering away in the darkness of increasingly cluttered desk drawers.

But not Robert Evert, author of the novel Riddle in Stone, the first book in a fantasy series of the same name. Determination and persistence had pulled him through to his ultimate goal, and on February 26th, 2013, Riddle in Stone was released by Diversion Books in e-book format, available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and a host of other distributors.

And oh, what a story it is!

Fantasy novels, mind you, have always been my cup of tea—particularly dark fantasy—so it was easy for Evert's world to absorb my attention and hold me fast to the digital page with its overall smooth writing, well-woven plot, and intriguing characters, having managed to shut off my “inner editor” . . . for the most part.

Riddle in Stone carries the reader along on a journey with Edmund, an overweight, middle-aged, stuttering scholar from the secluded village of Rood tucked in the Highlands, a month's travel from the kingdom of Eryn Mas where King Lionel presides. And it's there—in Rood's village square, with an official royal proclamation—Edmund makes a life-altering decision, which indeed becomes quite the journey for him in so many respects—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The gist?

Edmund had always been smitten by Molly, a beautiful tavern serving girl he'd grown up with in Rood, though never able to confess his true feelings to her, hindered by his self-esteem and speech impediment. So when a soldier-adventurer from far-off comes to the Wandering Rogue (the tavern where Molly works and Edmund frequents), to brag about his exploits with a goblin horde, Edmund comes to a startling realization: He's wasted half of his life holed up in the boondocks village of Rood, locked in a stagnant, sheltered and, well . . . utterly “boring” life, as Norb, the stable hand, so bluntly puts it.

But Edmund is determined to change all of this. Driven to become an adventurer—not only in the hopes it'll impress Molly, but also to give his life purpose so he doesn't die alone and pathetic—Edmund accepts the challenge of the written royal edict: To find and deliver the legendary “Star of Iliandor” to King Lionel in Eryn Mas!

Yet Edmund had no idea how life-altering his decision would turn out to be. However tough he believes his journey is at the outset absolutely pales in comparison to what he later endures . . . when he's captured by goblins, oppressed, abused, and forced to work alongside hundreds of other human slaves in the bowels of the goblin mines.

Now, admittedly, Riddle in Stone is not for the faint-hearted or the weak-stomached reader; gruesome scenes do dwell within, and even though they aren't described in intricate detail, they're enough to possibly sour the very easily squeamish. As with all scenes of every well-written novel, though, they are needed to advance the story (i.e. no pointless gore for pointless gore's sake) and tremendously well balanced throughout.

My overall take?

I came into the story with two mindsets: 1) as a reader, and 2) as an editor.

As a reader: It held my attention from beginning to end, easily tugging me along beside Edmund as he journeyed from meek and unskilled, to strong and highly adept. Together, we met characters we loathed and adored, experienced pain and loss, suffered hardships, and reveled in triumphs. Even though Edmund is the opposite of how I perceive myself, I was still able to connect and relate; essentially, he became a “friend,” as all good main characters are wont to do, enough to draw me into the first chapter of book two, available as a bonus read at the end of Riddle in Stone.

As an editor: It was well-rounded with both world and characters properly fleshed out and a fitting, if not touching, end. Narrative and scene structure were balanced and mixed with natural dialogue that brought out the characters' individualities. Although villains were certainly villains and heroes were certainly heroes, neither were stone-cold one or the other; each possessed both positive qualities and realistic flaws, and a variety of backgrounds that removed “cardboard cut-out” two-dimensionality. Subtle connections were well done, and the writing itself was fluid overall, with only one niggle: scattered typos and minor errors—likely overlooked by the average reader; snagged upon by my practiced editor's eye. Yet the storyline remained strong enough for me to lay these aside (or correct them in my head) and continue reading.

In short: Very pleased with the story as a whole.

So, how would I rate Riddle in Stone? I give it a firm four-and-three-quarters stars. Not pristine and purely perfect (because nothing's perfect, to be honest), but it is a really great story that I highly recommend, particularly for those who love fantasy with a darker bent. Worth both the money and the time spent reading it, and I am looking forward to delving into the next book planned in Mr. Evert's series.

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Riddle in Stone is available for Kindle at Amazon. You can download a sample there to read! 

7 comments:

  1. I loved Riddle in Stone. The author is much to modest about his fantastic debut novel.

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  2. Hey thanks, Lorraine!!! I really appreciate your kind words.

    Hopefully all of your readers who like fantasy/romance/coming-of-middle age stories will read it. The first chapter is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.

    Thanks again Lorraine and everybody! I really appreciate everything you've all done for me :)

    I hope you enjoy the next book.

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  3. Great review of Riddle in Stone. I definitely agree with Lorraine, but the proof is in pudding of his characters.

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    1. He's got some great characters, that's for sure. Some I certainly hope crop up again in his series, books slated for future publication. :)

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! I truly enjoyed this book. I wish more people would pick it up and give it a read.

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