Jul 15

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Journey to Altmortis by Thaddeus White

Journey to Altmortis coverThey say that you can have too much of a good thing.  I object to that statement on abstract philosophical grounds, because if you have too much, it’s no longer a good thing.  However, you can always have more of a good thing.  And that is what prompted me to read Journey to Altmortis.  I had recently read White’s Bane of Souls, and found it to be a good thing.

Although both novels take place in the same world, Journey to Altmortis is not properly a sequel.  Except for the case of an unsavory petty tyrant and the case of pair of unsavory brothers as motivation for the plot, there isn’t any follow-up of the story in Bane of Souls.  Still, it’s nice to think that after one plot draws to its conclusion the characters are still there, their lives go on, and their aspirations remain to be realized.

Journey to Altmortis is a fantasy, and it’s a quest story, but I hesitate to call it a fantasy quest, because that term may have particular connotations in the Tolkien tradition: a small band of unlikely and often unwilling heroes travel across dangerous lands to prevent the destruction of the world by an overwhelmingly powerful enemy.  We know it from Star Wars, too.  And Terry Brooks’ Shannara stories.  And my End of the Ancients trilogy.

White breaks from that tradition in a refreshing manner.  The motivation for the quest is not that we have to put an end to Sauron, or Darth Sidius, or even Chalik Ziniril, but rather the darker aspects of humanity (assuming the characters are really human) of greed, ambition, revenge.  In real history, that’s what most quests have been; consider The Crusades.  But all is not dark.  White also portrays the positive side too: love, loyalty, honor, while not preaching about any of them.

As he did in his first book, White knits together an interesting, coherent world populated by interesting and (generally) coherent people.  And as in his first book, he embroils both in a fast-paced plot with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.  There are quite a few things that I never saw coming, but of course I cannot say what they were because I hate spoilers.

There has been a lot of criticism about self-publishing.  On one hand, much of the most vehement vitriol comes from those in the traditional publishing industry who stand to lose out when self-publishing becomes the norm.   Unfortunately, much of the criticism is valid; I have read things on Goodreads that are appallingly awful, either in storytelling, writing, editing, compilation, or even all four.  White successfully sidesteps that stereotype by delivering well-conceived, well-written, and well-prepared fiction to the fantasy market.  I am looking forward to his next release.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.duanevore.com/journey-to-altmortis-by-thaddeus-white/

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