Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Answering Review Request: Hooded Destiny

Zackery Hines asked me to read his novel "Hooded Destiny". It is a fantasy staring gods creating their own world and other stuff that happens. I will examine plot, character and polish and then assign a grade.

PLOT

The first thing I noticed about this story is that it is heavily modeled after the Book of Genesis. There are distinctions and differences but it starts with "in the beginning there was darkness" and moves into a world creation in a seven day span by an omnipotent deity and from there humans are given dominion over the earth and the first female is created from a rib of the first male. I don't know if this was to provide gravitas or make a homage but it is definitely there.  


This book is structured into three storylines. 1.) Sapienti proving his maturity and responsibility by creating a stable world and populating it with mortal creatures. 2.) The initial problem caused by the Casadire Jewel. 3.) The search for guardians for this jewel. It is this third one that is the "hooded destiny" from the title.

These are all good ideas, but that's all they are; ideas. None of them are developed. There is no process, no progression, no conflict. Stuff happens without rhyme or reason for it and then it ends without resolution because there is nothing to resolve. 

 The first plotline is resolved quickly and without trouble.  In fact, Sapienti finishes the task in half the time needed.  Not only that, but in that span of time he goes from wanting to have the same status as his brothers to changing his mind seconds before his father grants it. It's character development that happened off-screen; why the change of mind? What makes this more inexplicable is that he needs that status later on, and he would already have it if not for his strange turnabout. It feels like the author thought it was some unwritten rule for protagonists to turn down their quest rewards at the end. However, this is not the end. I can't even call this paragraph a spoiler because it's only 1/3 through the story's length.

The second plotline is about a thing called the "Casadire Jewel". According to the book, it "harvested usable power that the tribes could use productively". I compare it to a mystical solar cell. Why the tribes needed this or what they could even use it for I don't know. Given what happens as a result,
I'm like "what's the point?"

The third plotline is finding "the two purest people in the world" to guard the Casadire Jewel. However, the reader doesn't know this at first. Sapienti just starts looking for them without knowing if they exist. I got the sense that he was a bird watcher, but as a god watching humans.
 
The mechanics of functional magic in this book are an exemplary case of this book's development problem. There is detailed and intricate exposition on how magic works. It is the subject of its own scene. It was interesting and an author could use it to generate both intriguing magical dilemma plots in addition to magical combat scenes. However, this scene takes place 2/3 of the way into the book. The students only have two scenes where they use it and one of them is the climax.
 
The ending is dreadful. It tries to sound tragic and epic but the build up isn't there. It's like a grand finale that shots off immediately. It feels more like the prologue of a story than its ending. All this stands on the strength of a macguffin whose creation is inexplicable to start with. Furthermore, the conflict centered on this macguffin is forced and unnecessary because of an arbitrary rule. This removes any remaining gravitas it may have had.
 
To re-iterate, this is nothing inherently wrong with this story's plot. The problem is that it is underdeveloped and squished together. Separate them into three books and give each one a couple hundred pages instead of all of them sharing less than 150 (my PDF copy is 128 pages total) and it could become something great. As it is, it is nothing but squandered potential.

CHARACTERS

"squandered potential" is also the case with the characters. There is a large cast here, from the Top God of the multiverse to lesser cosmic gods, planetary gods, spirits, mages, and common mortals. None of them receive substantial enough development to be considered a true character. The two siblings with the "hooded destiny" receive nothing but a basic Cain and Abel distinction. All the many spirits and lesser gods have only a physical description and a job description, and that's it. These characters lack motivation, they lack dimensions, and they lack screentime.
 
 Not even the protagonist, Sapienti, is developed. He starts out as this class clown eager to prove himself at the start but then he peters out into a plot device. The most it can be called is bland benevolence.
 
 
 
POLISH

This book reads like a first draft. The brief events, unconnected plot threads, shallow characters, and general lack of refinement all remind me of a first draft. In regards to spelling and grammar, there are many cases where thespaces are not includedbetween twowords. That's what it looks like.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Hooded Destiny" a F+

For reference "F+" means "I like this book but its quality is extremely low"

This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange for it except a free copy of the book.

Click here for the next review request: The End

Click here for the previous review request: Dragonfly

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