Review of The Buried Symbol & Interview with the Author!
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Overall Rating: *** (3/5)
Amazon Rating: (not yet rated)
Pairings: Eye of Minds by James Dashner, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Brock doesn’t possess a rune. This means he’s Unchosen, in the lowest class of his society. Nobody respects him; everybody assumes there’s something wrong with him and that he should be treated as lesser.
That is, until Brock decides he’s had enough and needs to change his fate.
After acquiring a fake rune, Brock sets out on a long journey to start over with his one other Unchosen friend, Tipper. After arriving at their destination, the pair attempt to each create new, better lives for themselves.
As the novel focuses more specifically on Brock’s adventure in his new environment, the reader learns that Brock ends up enrolled at the Academy, the school where the ruling class of the Empire is trained. Possessing a natural sense of curiosity, Brock soon begins to discover the secrets the Academy has been hiding while also making some great friends… And a very powerful enemy intent on destroying him.
Will Brock be able to juggle the complexity of his new life while also attempting to discover what the Academy is hiding from its students?
This book had me struggling with conflicting opinions. It was completely and utterly different than what I was expecting, both in a good and bad way.
The book started out incredibly. From the very first page, my heart was racing and I was filled with suspense. The very first scene got me so excited: I was ready for the action, the betrayals, the desperate unknown to just go on and on; I felt like 355 pages was not going to be enough.
Then the story mellowed out, and I didn’t really feel like it ever got to the same point of heart-pounding suspense again. Besides the climax, that is. Although it didn’t exactly reach the level of Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, it was pretty intense. I just wish it had lasted longer, as I felt like it was there and gone in the span of a few pages, and then that was it.
Next: the characters. They were beautifully written and their personalities were crafted with precision and expertise; each one was intriguing and complex in their own way. It was clear to see that Kohanek knows how to write a character and develop his or her personality. Where Kohanek’s characters were lacking, however, was in relationship-building. On their own, yes, they were each beautiful shining stars that deserved entire novels dedicated to themselves alone. Their interactions, though, I felt were mostly awkward. The dialogue was missing a bit of spark, a bit of life: it needed a little more energy to make the relationships seem realistic and personal. I was missing the epic build-up to the love, trust, and utter comfort that usually come with a true meaningful relationship, especially one that is romantic.
The writing itself was beautifully descriptive: the book was filled to the brim with beautiful imagery and vivid pictures of the various settings and events that took place. Kohanek’s style reminded me of some of my favorite authors, and I know that if some small changes are made in the future, this author may become one of the best there is.
Make sure to come back next Wednesday for a new review!
AUTHOR Q & A WITH JEFFREY KOHANEK!
1. What drew you into the fantasy genre? What do you like about it and what was the first fantasy book you read?
I primarily read fiction as a means to escape everyday life. Fantasy attracts me because of its ability to transport the reader to amazing new worlds; worlds in which mystical powers and magical creatures expand the possibilities of reality. Since I was five years old, the idea of heroes wielding amazing powers in a fight against evil has captivated by attention and imagination. Technically, superhero comic books fall under the fantasy genre, and that would be where my love affair began. In fourth grade, I moved on to The Chronicles of Narniaand I was hooked.
2. Where did you draw inspiration for "The Buried Symbol" from/how did the idea come to you?
Words have power in our society, offering inspiration to perform great deeds or cutting to the bone as if they were a knife of another sort. One of the core tenants of my story revolves around symbols having intrinsic meaning and power, such that they can affect the world and those living within it without ever having to be taught what they mean. Having the spirit of an optimist and the heart of a romantic, I love stories that contain a protagonist who is an underdog and then goes on to succeed despite the obstacles placed before him. My underdog in the story discovers a magic that has been buried away for centuries and learns to harness this magic. The process of discovering a magic was another core theme of the book and largely drives the latter part of the book.
3. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be and why?
Don’t discount the importance of editors and editing. I made the mistake to wait until I had a contract signed to get an editor. In hindsight, I would have had a professional editor go through my book before I sent the first submission. Beta readers are wonderful, but editors cannot be replaced by your eyes or the eyes of others who are not trained in the craft.
4. In one of your blog posts, you mention that you really tried to focus on the sense of discovery while writing the Buried Symbol. Why do you think this is an important element of novels?
On some level, readers are seeking to be challenged; to be presented puzzles that they can ponder as the story progresses. Each event that reveals another clue or secret becomes a reward in the form of an intangible treasure chest of knowledge. When reading, there are few themes that I enjoy more than this sense of discovery. I hope to offer that to my readers, not just in the first book, but continually throughout the trilogy as the plot unwinds.
5. What can we expect in the second book of The Runes of Issalia?
Book 2, The Emblem Throne, opens with Brock and Ashland experimenting with new runes, testing the limits of the magic that Brock discovered in the first book. While Brock remains the central character throughout the series, other characters gain a voice in the book two, exposing the reader to the background, depth, and aspirations that drive them. Brock and his friends return to the Academy to continue their training, but it doesn’t last because Brock’s false identity is discovered. After fleeing the school, the group becomes deeply embroiled in a struggle between opposing forces with the fate of humanity in the balance.