(Credit: Jason Tesar)

Tesar is god fearing man who has, unsurprisingly, decided to use scripture as a jumping off point for his first series of books. I have to admit, however, that I didn’t really get the feeling that it was biblical, probably because I didn’t read the first three pages of the book, which looked like an encyclopedia entry. I don’t like books that start with a long winded and cryptic explanation. So I skipped the beginning and started with the first action in the book. In hindsight, that wasn’t such a great idea as I missed the point of the story in many ways, but then I think Tesar probably could have introduced his concept better in a narrative fashion than using a dry, legal-looking list.

The (real) start of the books is set on our planet, with analysts talking about global warming and rising seawaters. We don’t know who they’re working for, but one of them has seen something strange happening in a country on the other side of the world, something which involves a lot of water appearing out of nowhere and a man escaping from some scuba divers.  The mysterious company decides to go and rescue the man.

When we see the person being rescued, it’s obvious he’s not part of our world. Then Tesar takes us back to the world that the man came from — a far flung empire still in the sword-wielding stage of technology. There we meet a new character who has a brush with mystery sailors, coming off the worse for the encounter. He dies trying to tell his story to the governor of a nearby city, Adair, who later turns out to be our mystery man rescued in the other world.

Unfortunately, we don’t meet the real main character of the story, Adair’s son Kael, until later. This to me was a fatal flaw in the books, because I’d already sided with Adair and couldn’t like Kael as much as I should. Adair disappeared mainly out of the books after the rescue situation is explained, leaving me feeling hollow.

However, once I became used to Kael as a main character I did warm to him. He is ostensibly “executed” after his father disappears (off to the alternate world), but in reality he’s whisked away to a monastery where he learns to fight with other boys.  He doesn’t feel right about the monastery’s god, for whom he’ll be fighting when the training is done. He fails a test set for him by the high priest of the order and goes his own way. Unfortunately for him, his time at the monastery comes back to haunt him as the boys start appearing while the empire comes under attack from the outside.

100,000 people have downloaded copies of Tesar’s first book, which he’s priced for free on Amazon and Smashwords. I  have to admit that somehow I managed to download the whole trilogy for free (it’s supposed to cost $4.99) , which was a bonus. The freebie did have an unforeseen drawback, however. I thought I’d only downloaded the first book. When I reached the end of the book, I thought I had two further volumes to go, but I had actually read all there was. The finale had more loose ends than in an unravelling sweater, the most important of which for me was, what happened to Adair?

After looking at Tesar’s blog, it seems that he will write another book to complete the story, but he intends to write a number of prequels first. That goes into my “how seriously to annoy your readership” category.

Still, I did enjoy the books. The fighting scenes flowed well and the characters were believable. There was also enough original content in the story for it to feel fresh. However, I really think Tesar should have rethought how he started the book. Clunky prologues are so last decade. It’s also necessary to address the central theme of your story in the story, not just in the beginning.

After all, he promises in his blog:

In book xx  of his debut series, Jason Tesar delves into the heart of an ancient legend, expanding an epic saga that will journey from earth’s mythological past to its post-apocalyptic future, blending the genres of fantasy, sci-fi, and military/political suspense.

I didn’t get the feeling at all that he’d delved into the heart of an ancient legend. It felt more like he attempted to build a good story on a clumsy background. I’m hoping that the books yet to come bring more of the mythological flavour he’s promised into his writing. But I don’t feel like reading the prequels and probably will have forgotten about Tesar by the time I he gets to complete the story he’s already started, so I may never know if they do.

I’m going to give this series a 3/5. If it had been finished properly, it would have had the potential to be a 4/5 or higher.

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