Book title: “Mortus, Book One of the Faenum Quest
Author: Dennis Hausker
Publisher: Melange Books LLC
Genre: epic fantasy
Mortus is an epic fantasy about a witch, a troll, an elf, a dwarf , and a human, who set off to defeat an evil dictator with unbeatable magic power. Sound familiar? Yes, this is true to the traditional epic fantasy style.
What’s a little different is that the central character, Dave (an unlikely name for a hero) is a man from our world. His mother has just died and his uncle, whom he has never met, appears and tells him that his father came from another world and that he is needed there to stop some great evil. Dave is a bit of a gung-ho innocent and he doesn’t (a little unbelievably – I would at least pack a gun) require much convincing to leave with his uncle.
He travels through a void and arrives in the other world, having lost his uncle on the way, then he sets off to see what he can do. He happens to run into the other characters and one by one they join him. Initially, it wasn’t clear to me why they joined him, or where they were going, but as Dave’s power grew, I could understand his appeal. However, even after their goal was clarified, Dave didn’t seem to have sufficient motivation to go to what people kept telling him was sure death. The fact that his uncle told him he was needed to stop the evil was enough for him to rush blindly into the dark fortress. Dave is either more courageous or more stupid than me – probably both.
This doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the character. In fact, I found his directness and naivety quite appealing. Dave is very much Jung’s archetypical fool, not only in his foolishness, but in that his openness and directness also have an aspect of wisdom. For example, he insists that the native inhabitants adopt the more enlightened earth ideas. He didn’t come over as a zealous missionary, just as someone who believed that our ways are simply better for all concerned, so why not adopt them. The vagaries of his human speech also provided some quite delightful moments of lightness.
There is some very interesting mental magic in this book and the images of its working are quite powerful. However, I feel that Dave’s abilities develop a little too easily. Perhaps the most interesting characters, apart from Dave himself, were the cannibalistic wizards, and I liked the huge man-eating cat. I would have liked Dave to have had to work a little harder to make him tame though. The other characters I found a little two dimensional, and even given leeway for speech patterns of another society, the dialogue often felt stilted.
The book has clearly been well proof read and copy edited, but the writing style, though clean and fresh, sometimes lacks immediacy (it’s a little too much telling and not enough showing for my taste). I also didn’t like the story’s dependence on coincidence to move it forward, and I felt that the characters often lacked sufficient observable motivation to do what they did.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable story perfect for fans of epic fantasy. I give it 3 stars.