The Peleg Chronicles – Book 3: Loresmen by Matthew Christian Harding – Zoe & Sozo Publishing (2014)


In Loresmen, book three of Matthew Christian Harding’s Peleg Chronicles, we return to the post-Flood world of the Quixotic Lord McDougal, his faithful squire Fergus Leatherhead and the young and intrepid ranger Thiery.

Like the first book in the series (Foundlings), Paladins ended on a cliffhanger, but gave us such a great set up for the final book in the trilogy that I could scarcely wait to begin reading it! My busy schedule got in the way, but I did eventually get around to finishing the Peleg Chronicles. I wish I could say it was a happy ending for me.

!!!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!

Oh, the characters are just as strong and delightful, with the exception (as noted in previous reviews) of a strong protagonist. I had hopes that King Strongbow or the Witch Esla or the Dragon Cult or even the diabolical dragonrider Squilby would finally step things up, but these antagonists were two dimensional at best. Strongbow does little more than menace and set up a final conflict he has nothing to do with. In fact, we are left with the impression that our heroes live happily ever after despite his continued existence beyond said conflict despite the protagonists’ objection to the mad king’s belief that he is a god. Esla may as well have never existed in the novels. She exits as a footnote. The Dragon Cult amounted to two-dimensional nameless foes, minions for a Dark Lord that never graced these pages. Squilby was the strongest antagonist but he does nothing until the final conflict and his end is disappointing and stupid. In fact, I daresay that he dies from making a newbie mistake that is altogether inconsistent with his character, leading me to wonder whether the author simply tired of writing and wished to wrap things up without having to write further conflicts.

Whatever the reason, this book suffers from a basic sin against storytelling. One of the basic elements of successful fiction is the principle of “Show, don’t tell.” What this essentially means is that we shouldn’t summarize what happened but rather show what happened via a scene. Remember that great cliffhanger from Book 2? Harding begins well, delivering an awesome arena spectacle: our heroes versus the formidable giants, Lunace, Ogre and Goblin. The action ends abruptly and we cut away to a few quieter scenes. Our assumption is that the author wants to set up the next act while keeping us on the edge of our seats with the question of “What happened to our heroes in the area? Did they win?” Only then someone mentions that they won, eliminating all tension. By the time someone relates how they won, I literally didn’t care anymore. Nor was I surprised that I was told what happened instead of being shown what happened. If you think that’s bad, you should know that most of the final conflict violates the principle of Show, Don’t Tell. I don’t like my final conflicts given to me in summary, thank you very much.

The third strike against this much-anticipated book came in the form of a footnote. An actual footnote in a work of fiction. This intrusive message from the author totally destroyed the illusion for me. Worse, it was completely unnecessary. I was well aware from reading the story that Elvodug wasn’t a real wizard and was only tricking the boy. I can only suspect that the author’s commitment to “No Humanism! No Evolution! No Magic!” is so strong that he didn’t want any doubts on the subject. Nevermind he’s had a witch in his story since the first book and never once felt the need for such an interruption of the story! He should’ve had more faith in his own storytelling abilities.

The first two books included an appendix or two. Loresmen includes an appendix on magic and the Bible. It’s little more than a bunch of verses mentioning magic, sorcery and witches, largely self explanatory but a little commentary would’ve been nice.

Loresmen was a disappointing end to the Peleg Chronicles.

You can find out more about the Peleg Chronicles at http://MatthewChristianHarding.com.

-Rev Tony Breeden
From the Bookwyrm’s Lair

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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About Tony Breeden

Tony Breeden is an author, creation speaker, Gospel preacher, vocalist and artist from West Virginia. He is also the founder of DefendingGenesis.org. Find out about his books at http://TonyBreedenBooks.com.

3 comments

  1. Hi Tony, thanks for your honest review and pointers. I’ve been thinking for a while of polishing up book three, and I will take your advice to heart. I’m currently working on book four right now. Squilby actually didn’t die, though I know I left that impression, so maybe I can do better with him in the next three. I’m curious about your perspective on Count Rosencross. I thought of him as my main protagonist. Did that whole Rosencross/Priest thing not work for you? Grace, peace and blessings to you brother.

    In Jesus,
    Matt

    • Matthew,

      First I want to say that I am a big fan of the Peleg Series, that I am still looking forward to Book 4 [maybe you could tie up those loose ends with Strongbow], and that, unfortunately, my disappointment with this particular book was honest and heartfelt. I hate giving reviews like that, especially when the first two books were so enjoyable. If you do polish up #3, send me a copy and I’ll be happy to revise my review accordingly. ;]

      Rosencross was actually pretty awesome in this book. He even overshadowed Lord McDougal (who ranks as one of my favorite protags of all time, btw) on several occasions. It definitely felt like you still had two main protags (McDougal and Rosencross, a shift from the first two books where it wa smore like Thiery and McDougal), but it did feel more like Rosencross’ story, with McDougal filling out the last threads of his character arc from the previous two books. I liked the Rosencross/Priest thing, but it had me flipping through the books trying to see if there was any hint of it prior. [Big fan of foreshadowing.]

      I look forward to reading more from you!

      -Tony

      • Woops! I messed up. I meant to say that I thought of Rosencross as my main Antagonist. How does that change things for you?

        Yes, I tried to foreshadow almost every time he comes into the picture, even in book 1. Since I, as the writer, was seeing him also as the priest and by extension all of the dragon priests, my main antagonist was much larger in my mind than I knew could possibly be in the mind of the readers (I also tend to see our great antagonist (Satan), behind all my antagonists and therefore unifying them to some degree). But I was concerned, that since my Rosencross Antagonist repented in the end, he therefore would no longer be seen as an antagonist.

        I am still playing with Strongbow, but I see him as a lesser, puppet antagonist, as do I see Squilby, though Squilby has his mind fully intact. The next book has another main antagonist who is a bit more ‘grey’, similar to the way Rosencross was not perfectly defined, with the intent that he will become more and more obvious.

        I must admit that I had no idea, at least no formal understanding, about Character Arcs, until lately (been reading some books on writing). I think that perhaps, I stayed fairly consistent with theme, and I usually kept to a narrowing (harrowing) pacing, but I definitely fell far short on character arc. Even theme and pacing were something I didn’t quite get. You seem to show your grasp of these things well in your reviews.

        Interestingly, now that I do grasp them better, and am trying to incorporate them more consciously in my next book, I find myself struggling to move forward without always second guessing everything 🙂

        I did also have many more chapters originally planned for book 3 but my page count was climbing beyond the budgeted pages, and so I foolishly chopped away.

        I am very glad that you are able to ‘give reviews like that’ for correction is quite valuable, and it is sometimes hard to find those willing to give it – wounds of a faithful friend, thick skin, etc.

        Have a blessed night, brother.
        In Jesus,
        Matt

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