Brian S. Pratt
on Jan. 11, 2011 :
Have you ever read Homer? The Iliad? Or the one that killed me in high school, Lord Jim? Of Staves and Sigmas is written in the style of classic literature and I couldn't have been more pleased. True, this self proclaimed long winded author goes into minute detail about everything, but does it in such a way as to be most entertaining to the reader. And do you like the flair of merry old England? At first I thought this work to be fraught with misspellings until the author was kind enough to enlighten me to the knowledge that there is an 'English' or 'British' way to spell words as well as the American way I grew up with. Once I realized that, this American set to with a vengeance.
The premise of this book would at first seem cliched and standard old fare. Man from this world is inexplicable drawn to another. Why, my own work covers a variant of that as well. But in Mr. Verdegast's there is much more to it than that. James Wagner, or Voknor as he's known in the other world of Ergos, is part of something that in the first book of the series is still vague with only glimpses and tantalizing foreshadowings of what is to come.
In the beginning he's in an psychiatric institute because of blackouts and strange behaviors which he refers to as benders. Be warned, the first several chapters are full of psychiatric mumbo jumbo, but it is necessary as it lays very important groundwork for what is to follow. Ever read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant? And how you had to wade through about 30 pages of development before you get to the good stuff? Of Staves and Sigmas is sort of like that, only much more interesting. After all, Thomas Covenant didn't run through walls naked as a jay bird or sit in the middle of an office having a nonexistent cook-out while in the throes of one of his blackout sessions.
Once he gets to Ergos, the action picks up as only a master storyteller could achieve. Never a wasted paragraph, everything either lays groundwork or moves the story along. I found myself at times reading the story, not for what was happening, but the way in which the author put the words together. I have to tell you, my own writing improved due to reading Mr. Verdegast's work.
Character development is constant throughout the book. World building is intricate. Every character remains true to themselves throughout. None of this where in chapter one the author mentions a certain character is a Vegan only to have them eating roast beef in chapter ten. Very consistent.
I can honestly say that I have not read a book like this since English Class in high school. The word use is at least 10th grade if not college level and the only problems I found with it were a few misplaced, or missing quotation marks. What a refreshing read after having read so many 'top of the genre fantasy books' written at grade school level.
The ending of the book is all one could hope for. Heroics and battle, fighting and camaraderie, this book is sure to go down as one of the best written, and highly entertaining books of the first part of the Twenty First Century.
The only downside to this book is that the rest of the series has yet to be written. But I have been assured by the author that the second installment is even now close to completion. On the upside, Of Staves and Sigmas doesn't end in a cliffhanger. True, events are in motion and you want to find out what happens, but you aren't left feeling like "What? It's over? It CAN'T be over!!" because of plots left in mid-dangle.
I wholeheartedly recommend this to any serious fantasy reader. Those looking for lighter fare may wish to search elsewhere. But for those who've been reading for years, and find that books being published by the main publishers all seem to read alike and are less than fulfilling, then for you, I say you must try Of Staves and Sigmas. You will not regret it.
(reviewed the day of purchase)