Author: Russell Kirkpatrick
Title: Silent Sorrow – The Book of Remezov Volume 1
Publisher: IFWG, 2021
A highlight of Russell Kirkpatrick’s fantasy fiction is the world building. As one might expect from a geography lecturer and cartographer (and accomplished novelist, with two previous trilogies under his belt), he knows how to express the lay of the land and the cultures it supports.
Kudos to the publisher for supporting Kirkpatrick, a Kiwi now resident in Australia, in going the extra mile in this first book of a new series.
Not only does he use weather, topography, flora and fauna to imbue his world with a tangible sense of reality, but he illustrates key moments too – with maps, naturally.
Given the titular character is a gifted geographer specialising in earthquakes, such attention to detail is not surprising, but seeing the drawings of this and other characters’ observations adds an extra touch of verisimilitude to this sprawling yarn of a continent under siege.
Silent Sorrow opens with Remezov encountering the threat coming from over yonder as he battles the politics of his order, such hierarchical contests quickly subsumed under the weight of an invasion of mythic proportions.
Then a flick, and a flick again, as the other point-of-view cast members go through their own rites of passage – the siblings Spit and Polish and the talented soldier Hab bring fresh eyes to the threat hanging over Medanos.
Inexorably, the paths of the four converge, revealing along the way the strengths and weaknesses of each as they are caught up in the deeper battle between reason and belief.
Not quite as effective as the maps is the attempt to show simultaneous action by splitting the page into two columns; the technique is the only point of disruption in an otherwise smooth narrative flow, the text enhanced by gems of description that only rarely overreach.
Book 1 lays the groundwork for its successors while delivering a satisfying and suitably significant climax of its own, more than sufficient to entice the reader to resume the journey. There is plenty of world – and character – left unexplored, and Kirkpatrick is an eminently capable guide.
Given that Silent Sorrow’s publication date was set back from 2020 by the turmoil of the pandemic, one trusts the next instalment is not too far distant.
Reviewed by: Jason Nahrung
Ballarat Writers Inc. Book Review Group