Back in July, my wife surprised me with a Barnes & Noble Nook (eReader) for my birthday. Since receiving it, I’ve been on the lookout for free eBooks which fall into the the Fantasy genre. Among them was a novel by I J Black entitled Amnar: The Execution. Of the few eBooks that I’ve collected, I was most interested in reading this one due to the activity of its author on Twitter (@TheCharmQuark).
Finding time to sit down in a quiet room to read has been difficult with a four-month old baby in the house. My once long reading sessions have been cut back to a fraction of the time, and it took what seemed like forever to get through the last novel on my stack of things to read. Rather than continuing on with The First Law Trilogy, I decided to take a short break and dive into the world of Amnar.
Armed with a cup of coffee, a CAO LA Traviata Maduro, and my Nook, I sat down in silence and began reading. This eBook is listed as being roughly 59,000 words and is the prequel to Amnar: The Inheritor. Being relatively short (compared to the ~300,000 word novels I generally read), I thought this would be a good opportunity to get a feel for I J Black’s writing style.
The following was copy/pasted from Smashwords:
At the heart of an ancient civilisation, a nightmare is brewing. Chosen to become the next leader of Amnar’s greatest warriors, Arist is hated by almost everybody. Manipulative and hungry for power, she has started a campaign that will bring the entire civilisation to its knees. Her trick? She will use its own laws to do it. This is the prequel to The Inheritor/The Awakening
One of the most interesting parts of this novel, at least for me, was the setting. Everything takes place within one structure which is broken into an upper and lower level. Nobility resides on the upper level while the servent class resides below. There is a clear line separating the two areas and the story bounces back and forth between these spaces. With the story taking place in such a condensed space, I was amazed at the level of action. It kind of reminded me of the 1957 film, 12 Angry Men. The entire film takes place in a single room (a jury room within a courthouse) and there was is no lack of drama or action.
Second to the setting, I enjoyed the pacing of Amnar: The Executioner. Even with all of the action taking place, I never felt as though the story was rushed, or that it stalled. Each scene felt as though it belonged and drew me deeper into the storyline. When it was time to set my eReader down and do something around the house, I had to tear myself away.
The biggest knock against this novel was the use of profanity. While I am no prude, and have been known to let the expletives fly, I find the use of the words like Fuck, Cunt, and Bitch in Fantasy novels distasteful. To be completely honest, I really have no idea why I feel this way. I suppose that when I read this type of story, I get whisked off into another world and feel as though I am being tugged back by certain uses of profanity. In many cases it feels like a cheap thrill and I wish the author would create cuss words unique to the world of the story. While the profanity is not excessive, it cheapened the dialog.
My only other dislike in this tale came in the form of the cast of characters. At the start of the novel there is a list of characters and their titles. I didn’t pay much attention to this list at first but found myself referencing it later due to the volume of characters. There are a total of eighteen listed, all with a formal title that is often referenced in the story. Not only did I have trouble keeping track of who everyone was, I had some difficulty with the names themselves.
Due to the demands of raising a child, I don’t get the opportunity to read nearly as much as I used to. In the past I would set aside at least an hour before bed and crack open a book. Practically all of my reading consists of fantasy novels. I absolutely love being whisked off into another world and being lost in another time and place. Amnar: The Execution did just that. I felt whisked away to the world of Amnar and drawn into the life of Arandes Nashima.
Given the fact that this novel is free, there is nothing to lose in reading it. I found the quality of writing as good, if not better in some cases, as novels that I’ve spent my hard earned money on. My suggestion would be to head over to Smashwords, download whichever flavor of eBook you prefer, and give it a try.