July 18th, 2020 by Jane Turner
This review of The Summoned Ones by Darryl A Woods was done as part of a Damppebbles Blog Tour. The Summoned Ones was published in paperback and digital formats by Bresford Ridge Publishing on 29 Feb 2020.
The Bericean army was in Malabrim for the ninth straight fighting season. Over the past 9 years, Zybaro, the leader of a small band of unknowns, had evolved from his days as a minor usurper of a tiny kingdom. Now, almost the entire country of Malabrim was under Zybaro’s control, and his army was large enough to easily challenge Bericea’s army. Still, Bericea continued its raids into Malabrim, hoping to stem Zybaro’s methodical progress and thwart his tyrannical means of control. Zybaro had seized village after village, forcing anyone capable of joining his army and enslaving all who remained in deplorable working conditions to supply his army.
This latest conflict with Zybaro had pushed General Darnon to a decision, one he had resisted making for over a year. Though he still held grave reservations about the Prophecies, he was willing to support the clerics who would attempt the summoning. The details of the ritual had recently been discovered in an ancient tome. The clerics were confident they could bring forth the Summoned Ones of Prophecy, those mysterious beings who would aid Bericea in its time of greatest need.
Darnon also had concerns about the location of the summoning. It would have to take place farther into Malabrim than they had ventured in many years. And even if the ritual was effective, it would be a great challenge to get the Summoned Ones safely back to Bericea, in addition to the soldiers sent to protect them. However, Darnon felt that morale was so low, if they survived this battle, he owed his troops the hope the summoning ritual could bring.
Join the soldiers of Bericea and The Summoned Ones through a life-or-death struggle. The Summoned Ones was made up of a small college aged group of friends from a small Kentucky town near the Daniel Boone National Forrest, who find themselves somehow brought to a chaotic world through magic. Their epic journey will push the Summoned beyond the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover many truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.
I love a good ‘displaced within time and space’ story, and this one’s a good’un.
Mr Woods is not yet a master of words, but he is most definitely a storyteller. The tale is creative (if a teensy bit formulaic – but most of this kind of stuff is, to some degree), the characters are fully fleshed, believable and relatable.
However, I found the writing a little clunky (as per the blurb above). The language didn’t flow that smoothly to me and, particularly in the beginning and when explaining backstories of new characters, there was much more ‘tell’ than ‘show’. It seemed the backstory ideas didn’t really come in coherent form but seemed to be put down as they were thought up, with little thought to the flow. Don’t get me wrong, the characters are great, but the writing of their backstories could use a little bit of a tighten. (It seems that editorial work is now fully my purview – I can’t read without thinking what I would change!)
The full story isn’t quite fleshed in this, the first of a trilogy. We know the group were summoned, but this first book only vaguely mentions the how, and the why is only really revealed in the last couple of chapters.
Mr Woods’ world-building is pretty good and the world seems fully constructed. It’s the classic good v evil tale, with some ringers from ‘our’ Earth thrown into the middle of a continent sized battle. There’s even the ubiquitous prophecy, though little detail is given on it. In the beginning of the book, the 8 Earthly characters are revealed and their backstories filled – but we don’t get any explanations of why these particular humans were summoned. Oh yes, their traits perfectly match the prophecy, but more could have been done to ease this to the reader. Again; show, not tell. Also, the Bericean’s are pretty light-lipped on the prophecy and indeed don’t even seem to really know the prophecy itself. (There’s actually more detail about the prophecy and Bericean backstory in the blurb above than there is in the book!) I guess we have to wait for book 2 for more.
Bad points aside – this is an enjoyable book. I got through most of it in one sitting – I had to find out what happened! The story is engaging and twisting, following different characters in different groups and jumping around the landscape. We don’t really get to know much of the local’s backstories, indeed hardly anything is written about the General, Commander or Sergeant – we don’t know what led them to this. Again, I like a backstory. I’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m just highlighting what, to me, seems like a gap.
All that said – I’ll definitely be looking for the other books in the series. Although the language was a little clunky, the story, characters and world Mr Woods’ has built make up for it.
Recommended for those who love a bit of escapism!
Darryl Woods is a storyteller who hones his craft entertaining coworkers. He also enjoys regaling family and friends with stories of his upbringing in rural Ohio, of the motorized contraptions his father fabricated, and of the timber cutting and sawmill work he did with his father-in-law. With an appetite for reading fantasy, it was inevitable he would choose to write about an epic journey in a world dominated by magic and sword fighting. Join his newsletter to get a short story every 15 days.
As always – don’t forget that I’m happy to do reviews for authors, and I post these on Amazon, Goodreads and my social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). Do please Get in touch if you’d like me to review for you.
Check out the rest of the Tour: