Law of the Wolf, by S. A. Hunt (5:46)

IOD-LawOfTheWolfToday we see that sequel books have their own peculiar set of issues that can trip up a reader.

What I gleaned about the story: The gunslinger clans are in deep, deep trouble, fighting off some kind of monster mechanoids in the age of powder and steam. There’s probably more, but that’s as far as I got.

Find this book on Amazon.

Technical Note: The author submitted the omnibus edition, containing both Book 1 and Book 2, but even so, it was an enormous file. Unless there are extensive graphics like maps or photos, an ebook novel should rarely be any larger than 0.5 MB. Yet this file clocks in at 4.6 MB, which is almost five times larger than a double novel should be. It makes no difference to the reading experience of course, but it means that fans will have room to keep seven or eight fewer books in local storage on their ereader devices. So I mention it here to alert the author. (When I converted the book to EPUB as a test, using Calibre, the resulting file was just 1 MB.)

Technical Note: I do all my IOD reading within the Calibre ebook reader on a Linux desktop, so users of other ereaders may have differing experiences, but in my case, I was confused by the ToC. Since the provided file was the omnibus edition, I turned immediately to the ToC, looking for the start of Book 2. Unfortunately, the ToC only listed the chapters and marketing pages for Book 1. Oddly though, there was a ToC link listed at the top of the page. Clicking on that revealed a second ToC page that provided links to the two separate books. I would be surprised if many readers will think to try jumping to the ToC page when they already appear to be on it. Again, this had no impact on the reading experience, but it was briefly irritating, and did somewhat color my impression of the book’s production, which was otherwise stunning, especially in terms of visuals.

WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The first page is unfortunately littered with echoing headwords. I tripped over a pair of “The”-headed paragraphs, a pair with “A”-heads, two pairs of “the”-headed sentences, and a final pair beginning with “she.” Amplifying these direct echoes, many of the other paragraphs and sentences began with these same words, which meant that the echoes in my head never got a chance to die away before the next one came along. On the whole, I found it very distracting and had no choice but to throw a flag.

WTF #2: Orientation starvation

Analysis: I first read Book 1, The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree, almost two years ago, and since that time it has been one of my favorite indie fantasy books. (See the review here.) But the problem is, I no longer remember the details. I’ve forgotten the cast of characters. I don’t remember the plot details. I don’t even recall which are the good guys and which the bad. But unfortunately, now that I’m coming back to this world, I find myself thrown into some kind of firefight with no hints or clues about any of that. No reminders or handy signposts. So while furious action appears to be taking place, I have no idea what any of it means nor how to incorporate it into my mental landscape of this world.

As a result, I feel a bit like an Alzheimer’s patient. There are loud noises and people seem to be shouting, and I know I’m supposed to recognize them and understand what’s happening. But I don’t. And that leaves me both confused and frustrated.

WTF #3: Declarative sentence parade

Analysis: I think this one might have been exacerbated by the Alzheimer’s problem. Since I don’t understand who is who or what the stakes are, the snippets of dialog and plot service are completely lost on me. As a result, all I have to focus on is the trudge, trudge, trudge of the declarative sentences. This thing waded here. That thing exploded there. A glow emanated. Some force animated. These are all statements about the physical situation, which is an understandable focus for a battle scene, but there’s very little context. And without that, my conscious attention was never properly engaged.

Note: Recaps at the beginning of a mid-series book are not just a marketing trick to placate people who have accidentally purchased Book 2 first. They’re also an important reorientation for people like me, for whom Book 1 was too long ago to be easily recalled to mind. And I suspect Law of the Wolf would have lasted longer on the treadmill if I had been given that crash-course reorientation.

Division: A Collection of Science Fiction Fairytales by Lee S Haw (9:13)
Collection of Fear by Brendon Meynell (3:03)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That’s why he writes.