Leiyatel's Embrace by Clive S Johnson
Review by Ed Collingwood
An intriguing tale, Leiyatel's Embrace will appeal to those who like their fantasies lavishly imagined and richly textured.
The author takes us to Castle Dica, a millennia-old castle so vast that it has swallowed the entirety of the coastal mountain on which it sits. Literally miles wide and requiring days to traverse, the castle encompasses districts, farms, markets, palaces and estates within its towering walls. Once almost a city or realm in its own right, the castle has decayed over the years as its population has shrunk and, as we enter the story, a few scattered inhabitants continue to scratch isolated existences of varying satisfaction within its faded glory.
Without wishing to give away too much of the plot, the story follows the sudden and unexpected arrival of a mysterious army of invaders outside the castle walls, and the subsequent efforts of a lovingly-depicted bunch of oddball characters to establish the whos and whys of the invaders' arrival. In doing so, they discover much about their own home and their own purpose.
Where Leiyatel's Embrace scores highly is in the care paid to the depiction of the castle environs and the people who inhabit them. History and geography are excellently thought out, the place names are authentic-sounding, and the author's deeply evocative descriptive language provides us with a beautiful vignette of a time and place. The vistas, great and small, are splendidly detailed. The characters are gleefully eccentric, keenly observed and develop satisfyingly as the story progresses to a surprising conclusion.
The narrative pace, it must be said, is fairly slow. This is an observation rather than a criticism; the author's cultured language takes us on a gentle road of exploration paved with character, rather than down a fast-paced highway of action. Once the reader is enmeshed in the tale, it does a good job in holding the interest and I found myself quite intrigued to find out more about the mysterious invaders. The craft shown in the writing is of a high standard and does requires the reader to pay some attention to reap the full benefit. Leiyatel's Embrace is one of those tales to sink into in a cosily warm room on a winter afternoon, possibly with a glass of dark ale to hand. Probably not one, I have to say, to dip in and out of on a crowded commuter train.
The dialogue takes a Shakespearean approach and is heavily laced with "thee", "thou", "afore", "dost", "twixt" and so forth. Whilst this is very much a matter of personal taste, I did find it made the conversational passages a little heavy going at times. I have never quite understood the logic of characters in a fantasy world speaking in a faux 16th century accent.
There is some fluctuation in tone, which in places is quite portentous and in others, notably the King's Council scenes and Falmeard's bungled romance with Geran, darkly comic. I myself thought the latter approach played much more highly to the author's flavoured and descriptive style
From a reviewer's point of view, the easiest comparison to Leiyatel's Embrace, both from story context and style of writing, is Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast. Another might be Tad Williams' Stone of Farewell series, certainly the first one, The Dragonbone Chair and its predominant setting in an eccentrically-populated castle. Fans of these authors are likely to very much enjoy Clive S. Johnson's work.
Bearing in mind it's a self-published work, presentation of the novel is generally good. There are two very nicely produced maps included, which I found very useful for reference. The author's writing style tends to enclose multiple bits of dialogue within one ongoing paragraph, which occasionally meant I lost track of who'd said what and found myself skimming back to check. I'd gently suggest that breaking these onto separate lines would make this much clearer for the reader. This is a small critique and is more to do with editing and layout than the storytelling itself.
Overall, a deep and detailed tale, clearly a labour of love. Not for everyone, but for those willing to immerse themselves it will be an extremely satisfying read. I wish Mr Johnson every success with it.
This Leiyatel's Embrace book review was written by Floresiensis
Have you read Leiyatel's Embrace?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Leiyatel's Embrace reader reviews
7/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Red Queen's War
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t...
A Song of Ice and Fire
George RR Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robe...
The Inheritance Trilogy
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the...
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies...
Legends of the First Empire
Michael J Sullivan
Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god f...
As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this...
The Goblin Emperor
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his fath...
War with the Mein
David Anthony Durham
Ruling from the island of Acacia, the emperor of the Known World has inherited an apparent peace and prosperity won by his ancestors generations ago. He's an intelligen...
Kings of Paradise
An island prince searches for meaning; a deformed genius struggles to survive. In a changing world where ash meets paradise, only one man can be king…Ruk...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: