This is ultimately a good series that has the potential to be great.
Young Polenum Thorik Dain lives contently in the village of Farbank, learning from the scrolls and trying to be a good student to his teacher Fir Brimmel. But when the mysterious human Ambrosius arrives, Thorik’s world is turned upside down as he is catapulted onto a journey to save the Dovenar Kingdom and the lives of those he loves...
The first of six novels in the ’Altered Creatures’ saga, this initial trilogy consists of Fate of Thorik, Sacrifice of Ericc and Essence of Gluic. Each tells a tale that takes our protagonist and his companions on ever more perilous adventures in the name of honour, love and their land’s salvation. It’s an adventure story of the classic kind - a young, naive individual is thrust into the path of danger with the future of the world soon set on his shoulders. While the series clearly draws from a multitude of texts, Thorik’s peaceful and uninterrupted village life in Farbank closely resembles Hobbiton, while the epic scale and ‘group adventure’ story structure draws further comparison with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
That’s not to say these are uninspired however, as Wedgeworth’s trilogy exemplifies the author’s wonderful imagination and the real investment he has in his books. Twenty-five years in the making, the author has created a world more intricate than you’ll see in a lot of the fantasy novels available today. With maps of the landscape in the opening pages, detailed descriptions of the multiple species, societies and political sects, Wedgeworth’s world-building is carefully considered and ultimately very impressive.
The story itself also testifies to the author’s considerable creativity, with some of his concepts generating some extremely involving, enjoyable and even horrific, scenes (the alchemist Bryus’ struggle to reattach his missing limb is both fascinating and revolting). The third book, Essence of Gluic is particularly memorable for this; the band’s encounter at the Govi Glade and Thorik and Avanda’s trip to the Della Estovia underworld both proving absolutely enchanting.
However, what also becomes quickly apparent when reading the Altered Creatures series is that they are in need of some serious editing. Wedgeworth’s painfully chronological narrative includes many scenes that are unnecessary to the plot progression and serve only to make already lengthy books even longer. Similarly, his writing style can often come across as disjointed and uneven, as well as occasionally feeling over-simplistic. He frequently fails to follow through on particular encounters (often emotional confrontations), leaving the characters hanging, while then going into excessive detail on other, less significant moments. His is a style that clearly favours action sequences rather than more intimate character-driven ones and the transition between the two feels in need of some ironing out.
What is also striking about these novels is the uncertainty of their target audience. Apparently intended for ‘young adult and older’, the characterisation comes across as very one-dimensional, with each character representing a particular attitude or moral trait in the style of a children’s book. This lends the story a ‘fable-like’ quality, designed to educate youngsters on the importance of right and wrong, tolerance and fairness. While this isn’t a bad thing, such shallow character construction contrasts greatly with the graphically depicted scenes that are more adult in nature, giving the book an overall uneven feel.
Because of this, the characters themselves are the least engaging aspect of the book. While Ambrosius, Draq and Grewen prove hold a lot of promise and are the more interesting of the bunch, Wess, Fir Brimmel and Gluic are predictable and type-cast, fitting too neatly into their designated roles. Thorik himself is also a disappointing leader, lacking the charisma one would hope for and frustrating in his role as constant do-gooder.
There are moments of salvation however, such as Thorik’s emotional complications with Avanda which are refreshingly realistic (if presented a little too literally), and the blothrud Santorray is often humorous in his brutal honesty.
On the whole, Wedgeworth has produced three books that take you on an adventure you will cherish. There’s an abundance of creativity and imagination in his thorough construction of his world and the various creatures, races and the delicate relationships between them are convincing and involving. The concept of the Altered Creatures themselves is also a fascinating one (even if it takes a while to get your head around!) that readers can look forward to discovering more about in the forthcoming trilogy.
This is ultimately a good series that has the potential to be great. With some additional editing and more careful consideration of the protagonists’ characterisations, the Altered Creatures series could easily cast a spell over every fantasy lover out there.
Review by Nelson Garan
I have never been to the land of Terra Australis but the author Anthony G. Wedgeworth took me there in his Altered Creatures Epic Adventure, Fate Of Thorik. He made me feel as though I was part of Thorik's family pod as they travelled in search of the answers of who destroyed there sacred city and its statue of their Mountain King.
Thorik finds himself yearning to help this stranger Ambrosius despite his uncle’s persistence on the undermining of these thoughts. This story tells of Thorik's journey out of his happy domicile in Farbank, of which he had only known before he embarked on this trip that would change him forever into a different num.
Thorik is the reason I love this book so much. He is a Sec in Farbank, which to tell you is a religious position in the community. He is a hunter because that is what his family did. He is an adventurer in his heart too. Following his tale in his transformation from an obedient Sec into a strong willed warrior. I really enjoyed this book of fantasy.
This book is filled with characters such as Brimmille, Thorik's uncle and a religious leader of their community of Farbank, Gluic who is Thorik care-free grandmother with the power of healing, Wes a mean spirited close minded num who tries to undermine Thorik every chance he could. Avanda, a youthful num and student of Thorik's, and Emilen who has Thorik tongue tied for words with his affection. As well as the powerful Erudite Ambrosius, and the playful giant Grewen, who is a mognin of the Ov' Unday tribe, and Draq the dargon of the Del' Unday tribe. Getting to know these characters is a truly amazing enjoyment.
The references used in this book allow the reader to follow the action and adventure the main character throughout his entire journey. It shows the reader the growth of the main character and connects to the reader on a personal level about the daily life struggles to meet the standards awarded by society and their needs for us to obtain.
I enjoyed following Sec Thorik Dain of Farbank and loved how the author allows the reader to become emotionally enveloped to the characters as they make the trek from Farbank to the far side of Australis. The author’s use of imagination was vivid in giving us a wide variety of description in surroundings without boring the reader, as well as, giving the book a bounty of odd and interesting creatures for us to adapt and learn about and follow. The way he describes the different clans of the unday was a well thought out part of the books core story basis. At first the reader thinks there were only the humans and the Polnums and then he introduces the Undays and the variances of there species the Ov and the Del and then the Myth. This was a very well written fantasy that I was enthralled inside the moment I was into the third paragraph of the second page.
Review by Alice Wybrew
7.4/10 from 1 reviews
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