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J. Scott Savage – Farworld: Water Keep BLOG TOUR!

June 9, 2008

74. Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage (September 2008)
Farworld, Book 1

Genre: Young-Adult Fantasy
Length: 413 pages

Started: 04 June 2008
Finished: 07 June 2008

This book was an ARC, sent to me as part of the Farworld “Find Your Magic” Blog Tour. Be sure to also check out my Q&A with J. Scott Savage, and a contest to win your very own copy of Farworld: Water Keep!

Pre-Order This Book on Amazon

Summary: Marcus Kanenas is an outsider, an orphan, that freak in a wheelchair despised and reviled by his peers, and he has been for all thirteen years of his life. But Marcus is special – he’s got a strange brand on his arm, strange powers he can’t explain, and a daydream about a place called Farworld that seems somehow more real than a regular dream. When Marcus is endangered by one of the evil men from his dreams, he is yanked away from Earth and into Farworld, where he meets Kyja. Although she is sound of body, she too is crippled – unable to do even the simplest magic in a world where fish can fly, barnyard animals tell corny jokes, and magic exists even in the flowers and trees. However, Marcus’s escape from danger on Earth is only temporary – the monstrous agents of the Dark Circle are in Farworld as well, bent on capturing both Marcus and Kyja, because in their hands lies the fate of both Farworld and Earth. In order to escape the Dark Circle and save their respective worlds, they must convince the Elementals of the four powers – Water, Land, Air, and Fire – to work together… a task that has never been done before.

Review: In the midst of the post-Harry Potter onslaught of young-adult fantasy novels and series, it’s got to be pretty hard for an author to write a story that truly stands out while still respecting the conventions of the genre. Farworld: Water Keep manages these dual hurdles well; an impressive feat considering that it’s got more than a hint of the pigboy parable** to it and thus is going to invite the inevitable comparisons to HP and other giants. The blending in of the ideas of elemental magic and alternate but parallel worlds adds some interesting wrinkles to the standard quest tale, and Marcus and Kyja both have their own distinct quirks that keep them from being just your average pigboy (or girl). In my experience, it’s rare to have a hero who is disabled without making his or her disability a focus of the book, but Savage manages to remind you of his characters’ limitations without making a huge showy fuss. Likewise, Savage handles the message of the book deftly, making the moral precepts clear without beating the reader over the head with them.

One thing that was a bit disappointing was a slight lack of complexity. I think this is a combination of some first-novel hesitancy and the fact that this book is geared towards a slightly younger age set than I was expecting. The action moves along quickly and draws the reader into and through the book at a rapid clip, and it’s funny, with likable, relatable narrators, but I kept looking for a depth of characterization or motivation that didn’t quite materialize. This was particularly noticeable in the bad guys; evil’s more interesting when it’s got shades of grey, but Savage’s bad guys are out to destroy the world (albeit with some genuinely scary monsters) because, well, that’s what bad guys do. Of course, this could all be due to the fact that it’s the first book in a series; more concerned with worldbuilding and introductions, and not wanting to give too much away up front. I hope that as the series progresses, and both the audience and the writing matures, more of the backstory will be revealed that gives more retrospective depth to the action-adventure tale of this first book. However, this book is good enough to draw me into the series, and into the world Savage has created, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next one. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: No big surprises here, and skews a bit on the youngish side, but a solid and enjoyable young-adult fantasy novel and a promising start to the Farworld series.

**orphaned boy/girl (typically with extraordinary birth parents) has/finds magic powers/objects, is hounded by agents of evil and must leave his adoptive parents’ farm (typically with an older, wiser mentor, who will die before the end) to complete a quest, learn about himself, and fulfill his destiny, which is usually defeating the forces of evil, thereby saving the world. See: Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with A Thousand Faces, Star Wars, The Black Cauldron series (whence comes the name “pigboy”), Harry Potter, Eragon, just about every other fantasy novel out there.

J. Scott Savage’s Website/Blog

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

First Line: Bundled safe in her underground burrow, with eight fuzzy babies snuggled against her warm body, the ishkabiddle woke to a curious rumbling.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2008 1:15 pm

    I’m going to have to avoid these reviews all over book blog-land until I read it in August, aren’t I?

  2. June 9, 2008 1:18 pm

    Yup, probably. That’s why I requested an early review date. :)

  3. June 9, 2008 1:30 pm

    I almost wish I had requested an early review date, but I’m off to a big work event in a week and 1/2 and when I get back, my wedding! Pretty much early August was the first chance, but I didn’t want to have to get back from the honeymoon and HAVE to read it right away, so I’m late August. That’s FOREVER.

  4. June 9, 2008 1:56 pm

    You’re a stronger woman than I; I don’t think I could have sat on an unread ARC for several months… of course, I don’t have a wedding to distract me, either.

  5. June 9, 2008 2:04 pm

    Well I’ve been requesting so many all over the place, which makes it easier. Although this one is just BEGGING to be read, far more than “Glimmer Palace” (although that book looks good too).

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