Book Review: GOL (Book 1 in the series THE LEGENDS OF ANSU)

GOLCOVERBehold the fans of Game of Thrones, here comes the adventure, action, violence, sorcery, and God filled series of GOL. GOL by J.W.Webb is a book of provinces, politics, and wild ambitions of their rulers. GOL continent was ruled by a king named Flaminius. As expected, many were not satisfied by  being an underdog; therefore, they plotted against him, murdered him, divided the continent into six provinces, and distributed each province among themselves. Today, the continent has six rulers — one for each province. These rulers of these provinces (Rodrutha, Treggara, Galania, Barola, Dovesi, Sarenia) are, however, not satisfied by their own share and are constantly at war with one another. Baron Eon Barola, lord of the Barola province) is forcing his daughter, Lissane, to marry the prince of Galania, Varentin. His motive is simple and predictable; a marriage between two provinces would move him closer to his dream of ruling the whole continent. However, Lissane’s heart belongs to a smith’s son, Erun Cade. Erun is, by no means, a worthy contender in the eyes of the lord of Barola. Therefore, he provides his vicious sons, Rosco, Aldo, and Paolo, with an ordinary task of threatening Erun. Soon, he realizes that there is nothing ordinary about his task. In another continent, a sorcerer, Ozmandeus, is busy releasing a fire demon. If this demon, Ashmali, is released, a mayhem is sure to follow. With a rise in the evil forces, Gods and Goddesses have started building their own forces. The collision of these events results into an eruption of violence, confusion, and uncertainty.

GOL is not just a book, it is an experience. The politics of over-ambitious and arrogant rulers prove to be a hazard for their people. There is nothing worse than an arrogance driven ruler, who turns his back on the people and focuses on his own petty agenda. Eon Barola is a character that proves this theory. He is the man who is ready to sacrifice his own children to claim a throne. The dialogues of the author are very clever in presenting the real nature of each character. The lack of visuals in books, as opposed to the movies, can only be compensated by skillfully writing the dialogues, actions, and thoughts of the characters. J.W. Webb has been victorious in this area. The author’s intelligent usage of prophecies and dreams has proved quite useful in increasing the anticipation and intrigue of the readers. Each prophecy forced me to imagine what could be the future of this continent.

The characters — both mortals and immortals — have been sketched with perfection. Each character, no matter how short they last, has a personality. This trick of the author leaves the readers guessing whether a particular character would get to play an important role in the book or not. The events, though connected, remained unpredictable. Various elements of surprise managed to keep me on my toes. The witchcraft introduced more thrill than I could have guessed while accepting the book for review. Gods and their mind games have been quite entertaining. Erun Cade’s anger towards Gods for considering mortals a play thing would resonate with many readers. The century-long question of why would God hurt his own children is thought-provoking and resides in the hearts of many humans — believers and non-believers both included. The fact that J.W.Webb raised this question by using a character is another example of his profound talent.

The immense pain of a heartbreak is drawn skillfully by the character of Lissane. The daughter of a ruler feels trapped inside the huge castle of his father; this is not an uncommon occurrence. Many books have been written on the same theory. However, her determination to stand tall even in the most unfortunate circumstances is a fresh approach. I would have liked for her character to exhibit more physical strength. In my opinion, she remained a damsel in distress, with an exception of her strong drive to survive.

The pages are filled with violent and sexual content; however the narration of the story never seemed overwhelming. With at least three stories running in parallel at all time, the plot never seemed monotonous. If monotonicity dared appear its head, the author has cleverly diverted the attention of the reader by writing something gross, like a mention of nose-picking or farting. The dialogues are very entertaining and realistic. The conversations never seemed boring and always managed to answer the possible questions of the readers. By the time, I finished the book, all my questions were answered by either the conversation or the thoughts of the characters.

I would advise readers to either mark or note down the name of the characters while reading because there are a lot of characters. The author has gracefully mentioned the credits in the glossary section of the book; however, I find writing down the names more effective.

The writing style of the author is descriptive. The readers can visualize everything, from castles to the roads; thanks to the narration of the author. The prominent mood of the book is dark; however, many events are written to lighten the mood. Overall, the plot remains quite intriguing and full of surprises. As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I would recommend this book to the readers who like reading about kingdoms and the politics of the rulers. If you have a stomach for violence, you have no reason to hold back from a plot that has the potential of reminding one of Game of Thrones.

P.S. I have received this book from Book Bear in exchange for an honest review.


The Author of GOL Answers His Own Questions

J.W.WEBBBookbear Interview Author – J.W. Webb

What inspired me to write my book?

A crazy imagination and restless roving mind! I’ve always loved stories and have always been a storyteller, ever since I was a kid in the playground I enthused in tales that could carry the imagination far and wide, roaming free without any harness to rein it in. I was a fan of The Lord of the Rings as a teen and that led me on to read dozens of fantasy books during the 70’s and 80’s resulting in fantasy becoming my favorite genre and greatest influence. I also have a fascination for Celtic and Norse mythology which led me to delve deep in that area too. Then about twenty years ago I put pen to paper and my ongoing series, Legends of Ansu was born. An epic fantasy series with echoes of myth.

Specific writing style

I don’t know, but reviewers have written that I write with a ‘rare literary flow’ uncommon for most modern fantasy authors. I just write and the words spill out, like an artist I like to paint vivid scenes and take my reader far away, give them a break from reality for a while. As far as fantasy is concerned I pitch my writing to a Tolkien-esque tapestry but with characters just as compelling and three dimensional as those found in game of Thrones, (though I do try and keep most of my crew alive.)

Titles?

I have 4 books on sale and I’m working on number 5. Most the titles are typical fantasy, The Shattered Crown, The Lost Prince, The Glass Throne etc. (Does what it says on the tin.) ‘Gol’ one word I thought gave a certain punch. This is the prequel to my series actually written after The Shattered Crown but set a 1000 years earlier, thus now offered out as the first book. It was originally titled Fall of Gol, but I shortened it to Gol a couple of years back. Don’t know why, just like it better.

What books have influenced my life most?

A lot! Lord of the Rings mainly when I was young I lived inside those pages, but also Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson, Tigana, by Guy Kay, Lyonesse, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword (I actually think perhaps the best small fantasy novel ever written) and Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series – to name but a few. I was also influenced by the Mabinogi, especially the version adapted by Evangeline Walton, these tales from Welsh mythology just blew me away. Other genres? I like Historical Fiction and some of Bernard Cornwell’s novels have influenced my writing too.

Genre?

Fantasy, mostly. I’m comfortable with the genre. That said, I enjoyed writing my ghost story novella(The Haven) set in Cornwall, England, past and present. I do intend to write in other genres. I have plans to pen a tale about Hereward the Wake (a very underrated Saxon hero around at the time of the Norman Conquest) and several of the early Scottish kings fascinate me. I also want to pen more suspense, spooky supernatural creepy stuff – though not horror. Never horror. But mainly fantasy, my ‘Legends’ series is due to run for another 5 books! My goal – 1 book every year until I snuff it or they come to take me away, haha!

Advice for other writers?

Check in at the clinic? Only joking Read, read and read again, I don’t read nearly enough as I should, never seem to get the time. Take critism/rejections on the chin and move on (I have had shed loads of rejections from agents over the years – ain’t no big thing.) Enjoy what you do and stick at it, one word will lead to the next. Write it. DON’T GIVE UP! As Kate Bush once sang in that brilliant Peter Gabriel song. That’s it!

Writer’s block?

Not yet! I’ve got so much crazy stuff between my ears my main problem is getting it out without it resembling spaghetti! I f I do get WB I shall go outside feed the chickens and maybe have a cold beer or two in the sunshine. Or else I’ll walk the dogs in the rain and sip claret by the fireside.

Hated something I’ve wrote?

No. I’ve looked at early stuff and thought it was crap but I’ve never hated it. Everything has a purpose. All part of the learning curve.

Favorite theme, Genre?

Explained above

Love of writing came from?

As I said I’m a storyteller first and writer second. A lot of folk reverse these priorities and that’s fine for them. I do enjoy writing, but probably like a conductor in an orchestra, I cannot settle until the story is down and the concert audience clapping. At some point I had to get those tales into words on paper, and later on laptop and tablet. Writing is just the conduit, the sword in the warrior’s hand. I had to learn the craft of writing and I still am, always will be. Yes, I enjoy it, but the stories are my true love. I like to create something unique and inspiring, then hammer it out in words that make sense! Writing’s a job, but it sure beats driving a big rig like I did for 25 years!

Hardest part of writing books?

For me it’s editing, going over and over in finite detail before sending off to my editor, and then after she’s butchered it, more work. Also the first draft kinda wears me out, it’s always a relief to get that done, the main structure and framework of the story down on paper – phew…. I enjoy the following drafts, which are fine-tuning and polishing. That’s where the real satisfaction comes – knowing that it’s starting to look great. Then it’s time for editing – ugh.

Enjoy most?

I love creating evocative scenes that tug the imagination; it’s what I’m good at. I like to take my reader somewhere very special. I also get a buzz from writing high speed action scenes and witty dialogue – my characters are often lively and argumentative, I think it makes a nice balance to have gritty three-dimensional banter set to a mystical alien backdrop.

Write every day?

Not yet, I’m still working on that and have to spend a deal of time on all the myriad other facets indie authors have to master. For me at 55 years old, these prove a challenge, as my fingers have spent more years wielding sledgehammers than tapping keyboards. Suffice to say, I’m learning new tricks . I also have other unrelated projects, which demand attention. I go in spurts, write for six weeks full pelt then leave it alone for a month, let it percolate – works for me.

Which writers inspire me?

Stephen King comes to mind, because he’s achieved so much. Of course many of the classics by: Shakespeare, Austin, Dickens, Hardy, and Elliot. And then there are fantasy writers from the 20th century: Tolkien, CS Lewis, Richard Adams, Raymond Feist, David Eddings, E.R.R Eddison, Lord Dunsany etc etc. But any talented wordsmith is a joy to read.

Working on at mo?

The Glass Throne. Book 4 in my Legends series, I just finished second draft and will resume in June. It’s taking shape nicely and follows on directly after the conclusion of the last book – The Lost Prince. It’s big and I’m contemplating splitting it in two, maybe I’ll ask you, my reader, about that?

About?

GT will be the final (or penultimate) tale involving my unwashed protagonist, Corin an Fol, a ‘Longswordsman’ with a shady past and an attitude problem. His tale started in The Shattered Crown, Which, as I explained earlier, is set 1000 years after Gol. GT, like the books before it, fuses myth and magic with cold hard steel. It focuses on the various rebels and factions currently trying to unseat the usurping sorcerer, Caswallon. It involves a catalogue of capricious gods, neurotic demigods, spiteful demons and warlocks, and badly behaved mortals with big nasty weapons. It’s the 4th book I’ve penned about the world – Ansu. ‘A place where you can never own enough sharp things!’ Thanking you for your time! J.W.W.

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