Review: The Talisman of Delucha

  • Title:
    • The Talisman of Delucha
  • Author:
    • A.J. Calvin
  • Release:
    • July 19, 2022
  • Format:
    • Paperback
  • Series:
    • The Realms of War

To start off with, if you haven’t read Book 1, then you should read that first. Unless you’re just looking into reviews for the series as a whole. Book 2 isn’t a follow-up, but a continuation. I feel that’s an important distinction to make. Imagine if a greater novel was divided into three equal parts. Book 1 is mostly set up and world-building, while Book 2 expands upon the established lore, while also introducing new characters and lore.

Two things make a return from book one, that still annoys the holy hell out of me. First off, is how characters with green eyes are always brought up. If there’s a group of characters, it’s always “xxxx affixed their green eyes on yyyyy.”, a good 3/4 of the time. It’s as if fiction authors seem to think green-eyed people have glowing, neon beacons for eyes or something. to quote an 11-year-old blog post, yet again; Why Green Eyes Are A Problem in Fiction… by Sian Griffiths

“Even among the best writers, green eyes have becomes fiction’s short hand for “pay attention to this person, s/he is *interesting.*” ……. My point is this: I think as writers we have to up the ante for ourselves. If a character is interesting, we cannot attempt to show this by resorting to the least interesting of all fictional eye colors. We must instead show it in surprising but character-appropriate action and dialogue. In other words, if we want an interesting character we actually have to make an interesting character.”

The second returning issue from book 1 is at the start, so mind the super minor spoiler. One of the protagonists is yet again looking for a character, they hear a sound, and brace for an attack, thinking surely there’s no way it’s this character they’re looking for, only to reveal seconds later that it was totally that character. It was annoying the first time, and the second…. and extremely annoying and lazy the third.

As with book 1, my review might cum off as mixed. To be clear, I enjoyed both books in this series very much so far. I’ve been unable to put them down, even reading 200 pages in a day, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The only reason I didn’t read another 100 was that I’m a slow reader and couldn’t stay awake any longer.

While there’s still the issue of named characters having similar names, that really caused me issues with my ability to remember names. Such as a scene where the character “Travin” is mentioned, I mistook him for “Tavesin”, or as they occasionally call him, “Taven”. I was extremely confused and had to look back over the last few pages to realize I’d lost track of the character’s name. My confusion aside, I found the characters to be interesting and memorable.

I’m not sure exactly how to word this; While I don’t find Vardak super interesting or compelling, I can see how he’d be interesting to other people. I think he’s outshined by the possibility of his companions, such as Emra, although she’s not had much time to be fleshed out. Ravin gets a ton of plot development, while Queen what’s-her-name still feels like a background character for him to bounce off of. Honestly, the only thing memorable about her is her green eyes.

Other background characters are given much more page time, making all of the other background characters much more interesting because you never know which seemingly minor character is just waiting to be developed. Between the naming schemes, and occasional lore exposition or subtle world-building, every character feels like a genuine person in a real, living, breathing world. It never feels like characters stopped existing, just because they’re not on the page at the moment.

I appreciated how time will pass for one character, and when we cut back to the others, they’ll address the time that has passed in natural conversation. It never feels like an exposition dump and is always worked into the dialogue so it feels natural.

The only group of characters who feel lacking are the soulless. I never felt like any of them had any real personality or depth. Even though we see the world through Dranamir’s eyes, it never feels like she’s any personality beyond having a murder and torture fetish.

Something I didn’t address in my review of Book 1, was the chapter icons. It’s not that I didn’t notice them, I just honestly never paid them much attention. Eventually, after an embarrassingly long time, I realized they each represented a character, which helped alleviate my near-constant confusion at the start of each chapter, as I had to re-read the first page or two with the context of who it’s centered around.

I usually don’t read chapter names, because they’re either nonsense I can’t figure out the meaning of, or they’re outright spoilers. I looked at a chapter icon, to see who the character was, only for the chapter name to spoil a huge event for me, that I would have rather experienced alongside the characters. It’s for this same reason that I don’t read summaries of books I read or listen to. I don’t want important plot points to be spoiled, I would like to experience them as the characters do.

One other annoyance for me, yes, I will bitch about literally anything, is how at one point the world is referred to as “Earth”. I think a character says “to the ends of the earth” or something like that. If you think that’s nitpicky, it’s not. What’s the logic behind creating a custom landmass, with custom races and cultures, languages, regional diversity, and so on, and then just lazily calling it “Earth”? I live on prison planet Earth, we don’t have blue-skinned, tattooed warriors and scorpion men, pretty sure this planet would be a lot more interesting if we did. Then again, maybe we’d have gray-skinned, soulless people sacking cities if we did.

My feelings may be a bit mixed, but I did enjoy these first 2 books very much. One of the things I didn’t realize until writing this is how well the dialogue is done. It’s what helps to make all of the characters feel so fleshed out and genuine. It doesn’t fall into the trap so many books do, where the only dialogue that’s ever relevant or mentioned is that which furthers the plot, leading to cardboard cutouts for characters with the depth of a puddle.

If you liked book 1, you’ll like book 2. If you disliked Book 1…. first off, you have bad taste in fantasy. Second off, why are you even still reading this? I highly recommend this series, that is, assuming book 3 is equally as interesting as the first 2, which I think it will be.

Note: This copy was provided to me free of charge as a physical review copy. The opinions stated in this review are mine and mine alone, I was not paid or requested to give this book a certain rating, suggestion, or approval.

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