Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Review: Three Wells of the Sea

Three Wells of the Sea Three Wells of the Sea by Terry Madden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An old-school portal fantasy, harking back to the roots of all portal fantasy, as introduced by George MacDonald: the Celtic Otherworld. I don't usually read portal stories or Celtic fantasy any more, but this was a good one.

There are two protagonists, one in each world, and both of them are focussed on the same man in two versions. A rebellious schoolboy in our world's California knows the man as his teacher and mentor; to a druid in the Otherworld, he is the king to whom she is bound. Life and death, evil schemes, war, courage, loss, love, all crash together in a satisfying manner. The characters are vivid, and driven by their internal issues, not the demands of a pre-scripted plot.

Originally I added it to my "Well-edited" shelf, but I ended up removing it, thanks to a few dangling modifiers, incorrect word choices (mindless/heedless, clamboured/clamoured, timber/timbre, sheath/sheathe), a couple of misplaced apostrophes, occasional missing commas, and some comma splices. We get a few sudden medievalisms among the ancient Celtic details: squire, palfrey, surcoat, even a corset. At one point vambraces (armour for the arms) cover somebody's knuckles. These are minor and occasional distractions in a book that mostly reads smoothly and well, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

I received this book at no charge through an association with the publisher.

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