Cadman’s Gambit, by D.P. Prior (13:59)

IOD-CadmansGambitToday I learned that when the prologue confuses the reader, it isn’t doing its appointed job.

What I gleaned about the story: Sektis Gandaw is a technological super-being of some kind, who creates races the way we create Saturday morning cartoons. But one of those races has stolen his glove of might and raced off to wreak havoc across the mortal lands. Something tells me that he probably should have gone after those stupid lizardmen.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note: There are some nice maps at the front, of much better quality than I usually see in indie books.

Note: For my tastes, this is teetering on the edge of overwritten. Passages like: With a tap of a button on the vambrace, he stimulated the phosphorescence of the green veins that fractured the black scarolite walls. Not a full-blown WTF, but there’s a bit of friction to the prose so far.

Note: A page later and it feels as though the author is trying just a tad too hard to sell the feeling with adjectives rather than actions. But I haven’t tripped hard enough yet to flag anything.

WTF #1: Proper-noun poisoning

Analysis: I’m on the fourth page of the prologue and I’m beginning to drown in all the names of places, people, races, and political factions, but I’m not being given enough context to set them properly into my mental map of this world before the next one comes along. Example passage: That had always been the problem with Aethir, he mused, ruing the day of the Reckoning when he’d been forced to return to the world of his previous exile in a planeship: it was so chaotic. Creatures sprang up from Qlippoth, Aethir’s dark side, like phantoms from nightmare, and his early attempts to subjugate the region had ended in disaster. The best he could do was to station sentroids along the borders of the Dead Lands surrounding his mountain base, and continue with his experiments in Malkuth, the so-called Light Side of Aethir.

WTF #2: More proper nouns

Analysis: I’m another page further along and about 8 more people, places, and groups have been added to the collection of plates I’m already juggling, waiting for enough information to put them in their proper cubby. It’s possible that some of the new ones are old ones being mentioned again that I just haven’t learned to recognize, but this is part of the problem with proper-noun storms; if you’re not given enough context, they all start to look the same.

WTF #3: Almost impenetrable prologue

Analysis: I think I’ve just spent 8 pages in the presence of the antagonist—a vaguely god-like super-being who has just awoken from some kind of technological hibernation to deal with pesky mortals who are upsetting his plans. But I’ve had so much information dumped on me… No, make that “data.” Information is coherent, but this was more like a stream of labels, with insufficient context to make them actual information. The overall effect is that I know this power-dude is out there, and I have the barest inkling of what he’s about, but I’ve always contended that a prologue needs to take the reader through an experience that is essential to understanding the later events. And while the events of this prologue may well have been crucial, the fact that I was able to retain so little of it means that it didn’t serve its function. I don’t feel I absorbed enough of it for that scene to properly inform my understanding of anything.

Note: The grammar and editing seem quite strong here, and what I was able to glean of the world building seemed fairly intriguing as well, so if you have a taste for books with a steep learning curve, this one might be worth sampling.


Clovenhoof, by Goody and Grant (21:50)
Conspiracy, by Ian Welch (6:28)

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.