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Craig Allen lives in Denver, Colorado.
on May 18, 2012 :
Craig Allen's novel "Beyond the Sky" is a epic fantasy novel set in a refreshingly novel setting. Although some familiar formulae inevitably crop up -- the tale is, after all, that of the protagonist's five-man band of adventurers, dispatched by the queen upon a quest to recover a item of great power and thus save the kingdom from a terrible evil -- this is a well-executed and serious narrative, and an enjoyable read.
The novel opens into action in the first few pages, and the setting and major characters are introduced naturally, adroitly avoiding awkward "as you know" info-dumps. The story progresses at a pleasant and accessible pace, and the climactic events are resolved with a pleasantly well-rounded denouement and conclusion which successfully ties off all of the novel's loose ends.
My main criticisms with the work are in the portrayal of the characters. Firstly, the "rogue sorcerer" was introduced as an irreverent trickster with great power, but very little is made of the implied mischievous aspects of his personality. Secondly, the portrayal of female sexuality is simplistic, with with a black-and-white contrast between total naive innocence and unashamed promiscuity. Finally, it would have been nice to see some more subtleties and "shades of grey" in the morality of characters.
The ending seemed a little too neatly and tidily closed off for a sequel to work well. However, the world Allen builds has a lot of promise, and I would look forward to reading future novels in this setting.
(reviewed the day of purchase)