A while ago, I started following a blog written by my college roommate Jodi's husband, Peter. Peter writes Christian fantasy, and he offered to send me a copy of his book, Forsaken Kingdom: City of Prophecy, to review. I accepted—with some trepidation. What if the book was horrible? Would my friendship with Peter's wife suffer if I panned his book? (No, I didn't really expect either of those outcomes, but they did weigh on my mind.)
Fortunately, the book wasn't horrible—far from it, in fact! So it is with great pleasure that I can give City of Prophecy a favorable review.
In a nutshell, City of Prophecy sets up a battle between good and evil in the land of Arvalast. The story centers around the people of Woodend, one of Arvalast's cities. Tarin, a shy teen, has the power to see evil (in the form of shadows), and another boy, Sarky, becomes physically ill whenever evil approaches. When Gildareth, a herald of the King, arrives in Woodend, he tells Tarin and Sarky about the epic battle that is quickly approaching as the number of King followers dwindles. AND ... I don't really know what else to tell you! City of Prophecy is difficult to explain without giving away too many details--and trust me, these are details you'll want to discover on your own!
City of Prophecy had elements that reminded me of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Ted Dekker's Circle series, Harry Potter, and Chuck Black's The Knights of Arrethtrae series. Basically, this means City of Prophecy fits well within the fantasy genre.
On top of a fascinating story that kept me guessing, Dudek's strength lies in his descriptions. Some authors go completely overboard in describing their characters and settings; others don't explain enough, and the reader has difficulty comprehending the author's world. Also, when the story features elements not present in our world, "seeing" them as a reader can be especially difficult. Dudek was able to take the picture in his mind and translate it into words in a way that I could quite easily grasp. I could see what Tarin saw; I could feel what Sarky felt.
City of Prophecy's biggest flaw is that Dudek introduces so many characters in such a short amount of time that I had difficulty remembering who was who. This was compounded by the fact that most characters had "odd" names that didn't easily stick in my mind. A character list that briefly explained the characters and showed how they were related to one another would have been invaluable!
If you read it, you should be aware that it's planned as a trilogy, so don't expect things to wrap up neatly. In fact, it ends at a place where you really want to know what's going to happen next! And now here's the bad news: Dudek self published Forsaken Kingdom: City of Prophecy (through his own Carnation City Press), and he's trying to find a traditional publisher for book two rather than publishing it himself. So it sounds like I may be left hanging for quite a while.
As you know if you've followed this blog very long, I read a lot. And through the years, I've read a lot of really terrible books—cheesy, clichéd romances are a dime a dozen (and I tend to find them ...). What Peter Dudek has written in his first Forsaken Kingdom book is better than many books I've read, and I hope a traditional publisher will give him a chance--soon, preferably, so I can find out what happens to Tarin and company!
Check out Peter's website here, and you can read a sample of City of Prophecy (or purchase the whole book) here.
Update 3-17-12: As of right now, the Kindle edition is only $2.99! Get it here!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free for review from the author. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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