A MelanieM Review: The Oracle’s Golem (The Oracle #3) by Mell Eight

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Cover - The Oracles FlameOnce Golem was the proud Dragon of the Earth.  Then the Oracle’s plans for him left him broken and despairing.  In his pain and rage, he left the society he was born into, melding in all ways, including physically, with the mountain they live on. And there the Golem hid deep within its recesses, paying little notice to the passing of years or the actions of the people he came from.

Then one day a child falls asleep in his lap …

That child is Lichen, the gifted problem child of the Earth Caste and he is followed Marl, a lowly Earth caste member who is chosen to look after Lichen and keep him out of trouble.  Marl came out of his testing with only brown dirt and a seed on his back, instead of the more impressive and powerful designs that would have boosted his status and gifts.  Marl has been content to garden and use the gifts he has in gentle ways, including looking after a lonely, intelligent child easily bored with his lessons.

Prodded by the attentions of Lichen and Marl, Golem slowly returns to human form and awareness of the struggles of the people around him.  When the truth of Golem is revealed,  it just might make Marl choose between his duty or the person he has come to love: Oracle or Golem?

Once more Mell Eight has delivered an enchanting fairy tale in The Oracle series, an imaginative and wholly captivating universe.  The Oracle’s Golem is a prequel (in a manner) to The Oracle’s Flame (The Oracle #1)  and The Oracle’s Hatchling (The Oracle #2) as the events that take place in this tale start off in the years preceding those stories.  In fact, Golem is the prime figure in the main drama of The Oracle’s Hatchling, something that the reader will easily recognize early on.

Every part of Mell Eight’s enchanting universe is fascinating and fully developed to include rich details and layers of mythology.  Four castes of Elementals, and which caste you belong to is decided at a ritual testing ruled over by the Oracle.  Where a person falls within the  Caste they are ordained for is revealed by a  tattoo or pattern that appears on their back, much like a tattoo.  Only these tattoos change and come to life.  At the pinnacle of each Caste is a Dragon, whether it be the Dragon of Fire (first story), the Dragon of Ether (second story), the Dragon of Water (still to come) and the Dragon of Earth which is featured here.  Then the levels (and people) drop in status and power and are given names accordingly.

Here is another brilliant element of this author’s universe, the names.  The name corresponds to a element of each person’s caste.  All Earth caste members have names that come from the Earth.  Marl’s name (he is a lowly caste member)  describes the clay and calcium deposits that fertilize soil.  Lichen?  That’s a composite of a number of organisms and has many uses so, yes, high on the scale.  I love how inventive this author is when it comes to naming the characters.  And then there is those fascinating patterns that appear on the back proclaiming each person’s gift and future.  Poor Marl…only a field of brown dirt and a seed, a pattern that makes all the others looks down on him with distain or ignore him all together.  If you find yourself a tad gleeful with anticipation when pondering that design, then this is the book for you.    There are so many layers of meaning to be uncovered and appreciated here.  This is a fairy tale universe for all who love champions, worlds in peril, and unexpected heroes.

Mell Eight’s narrative will draw you in completely into this world and Golem’s pain.  You can almost feel the weight of the earth on top of him as he sits, so a part of the mountain that his appearance is that of stone and soil, just another boulder for a lonely, bored child would use to climb and sit on when escaping his lessons.   Which is exactly how Lichen finds him.   We move from past to present and back again easily, sliding through the years and memories of the characters.

I really have only two issues with this story.  One, it felt that the ending came a little too quickly, and secondly, that rushed feeling made it feel a tad incomplete.  I could have wished for a chapter wherein it seemed like only pages, a slight flaw in my opinion.  But the world and stories Mell Eight has created for The Oracle series is far too rich and complex to let such a small issue pull it down.

You could read these stories out of order but you might find yourself saying things like “pirates? where did the pirates come from?”.  That won’t happen if you read them in the order the author has written and released them.  I love this series and eagerly await the next installment.  Pick them all up today, including The Oracle’s Golem.  It’s the perfect present to give yourself for the holidays.

Cover artist London Burden does a great job of branding this series with the stylized dragons on the covers.  Love it.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press  (preorder now)            All Romance (ARe)      links to come      amazon             buy it here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: January 21st 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleThe Oracle’s Golem
ISBN139781620045152
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Oracle #3

Book in The Oracle series:

A Review of Burn by T. J.Klune

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This review was written for  and posted on JoyfullyJay on February 20, 2012:

Rating: 3.75 stars

Burn is the highly anticipated second book by author TJ Klune, whose debut novel, Bear, Otter And The Kid was a wonderful and well received story of a young man coming to term with his sexuality within the confines of family neglect and maternal abuse.

“My name is Felix Paracel, and when I was nine, I became angry at my mother and killed her with fire that shot from my hands.”

With those words, T J Klune again takes us  into the mind of another young man seeking out both his identity and his destiny, Felix Paracel.

Burn takes place in an alternate Universe where Elementals, those people who can control the elements of fire, earth, wind, and water, are a minority race on Earth.  There are many of the same historical markers (i.e, WWII but with Elementals having helped win the war against Germany), but just alien enough to throw off familiarity.  Felix and his father have fled underground after Felix killed his mother. They took new identities and lost themselves in the metropolis of Terra City.  But the darkness is rising with intolerance and bigotry are now the ruling forces within the Government.  Much like Nazi Germany, the rights of Elementals are being taken away, and they are being rounded up for experimentation and incarceration.   As in any epic tale, it is time for the One to appear to save his people and that is Felix.

Burn is the first volume  in the Elementally Evolved Trilogy.  Here TJ Klune is striving for epic storytelling. He has created an ambitious Creation saga, complete with a huge cast of characters, a Tree God, and, of course, the Savior figure, the One…known here as the Findo Unum—the Split One—whose  “coming has been foretold for generations”.  Along with Felix, there is Seven, his Iuratum Cor, or Felix’ heart/mate, and a group of people who make up Findo Unum’s guard of warriors.

I was really looking forward to this book after reading Bear, Otter And The Kid because of its warm, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking characters.  T.J. Klune had warned everyone that this was different in scope than BOATK which would have been fine if the quality of storytelling remained the same.  Unfortunately for me, it did not.

In reaching to create such a large vision in Burn, the story became weighed down with too many timelines (Felix is narrating the tale from the future, then Felix is relating the story in the present, back to the future tense, then Seven is telling Felix the story of the past, then to the present and so on).   At one point, Felix (future) tells us about a betrayal that will happen soon (present), but then loses any emotional buildup as it takes another chapter to happen while they all train.  Sigh.

T. J. Klune has a wonderful way letting dialog paint a picture of a character, and that is true here. Tick and Tock the Clock Twins to Otis, a brain damaged gentle giant, come instantly to life through their words.  Seven too seems realistic, driven and obsessed with finding Felix and keeping him safe . It is the character of Felix himself, age 24 when the first chapter starts, that seems in so uncertain.   His “voice” seems to vary between that of a rebellious teen to one of indeterminate age, sometimes on the same page.  Can you care about someone when you can’t get a grip on who they are?  I don’t think so.

Repetition in the narrative is another killer here.  I think the author did it on purpose, trying for a certain greek chorus effect, but it merely becomes irritating and bogs the story down further. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I read about Seven’s “ocean eyes”.  This becomes a problem when you start anticipating that phrase instead of paying attention to the story.

There are several riddles figured into Burn that are supposed to shock you at the end as they are revealed.  I won’t give anything away but while one is well concealed the main  secret is easily guessed at from the very beginning so the shock value is lost. Again I blame overly dense, repetitive storytelling and wonder where his editor was.

It is not until the last two chapters, that T. J. Klune’s talent starts to shine.  It is here at the end that the promise of real storytelling that flickered throughout the majority of the book roars into life.  The writing is crisp, the action dynamic, and the story comes alive with all the fire and wind that Felix commands.

And it is that promise at the end that will make me continue with the series.  I can hope that with this volume out of the way and the exposition done, that the story of Felix Paracel will become more concise, more linear, and of course, elementally evolved.

My rating:  3.75

Cover:  I love the cover for this book.  Nice imagery and perfect for the story within.