Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer - Nicole Sheldrake



Title: The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer
Author: Nicole Sheldrake
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2011
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon
Smashwords
Amazon UK

I will admit straight away that “The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer” by Nicole Sheldrake wasn’t a book I initially though I would want to read. The simple reason is that even though it had a rather colourful cover, the title itself didn’t really hook me in and it took the author’s description of the story to get me reading the novel. Now I have completed it, I can say that I am glad I did agree to read it as I found it to be a light and fun adventure story set in a fantasy world I found to be quite unique.

As the title implies the plot of the story is based around the escapades a young man known as Benjamin Skyhammer. Benjamin is not a regular person as he is unable to use magic and in his world that makes him a very rare individual. However as magic only functions within a limited area, he spends his time roaming the countryside going to where most magic users won’t go attempting to locate various relics and artefacts that he can sell to the highest bidder Things soon change go him however when he is accused of attempting to stop a process that would allow magic to be used anywhere on the planet. Before long he is on the run trying to find the real perpetrator and unlock a conspiracy that may threaten the use of magic everywhere.

Whilst I have to admit that the heart of the story isn’t that original, there was actually quite a range of complex strands within the plot that kept me entertained even if it could feel a little bit convoluted at times. It was rather impressive how Sheldrake managed to actually keep the story making sense when you consider all the various different elements that were introduced as it progressed. In addition, the twists and turns throughout the novel kept me guessing right up until the surprise ending and the pace of the novel was just right to ensure that the adventure progressed at a good rate and yet also took time out to reveal some aspects of the world itself and Benjamin’s backstory.

One element of the book that really impressed me was in regards to how the magical system functioned. The manner in which magic was limited to being usable only within a certain proximity to the king was something I had never seen before. It was quite an interesting way in which to limit the immense power that people could possess and I enjoyed how it sometimes enabled the tables to be turned in regards to who had the upper hand depending on where an event might be taking place. In addition, the various races on the planet were all very different in how they actually utilised magic. For example, whilst humanity used a slate made from a mixture of blood and glass to form a picture of what they wished to occur, there was another race whose magic seemed to be based completely around the ability to control other creatures. Overall, it was a very complex and original magical system that really intrigued me.

The characters themselves were well developed but whilst I loved Benjamin’s partner named Higgins who was a fun and enjoyable character to follow, Benjamin himself was difficult to like at times. There were many points in the novel where he comes across as being self-centred and obsessed with finding a specific relic to the point that he will commit any crime to get it. The fact that he also seems to whinge throughout the novel doesn’t help either and this all just meant that I found it hard to really sympathise with him.

Overall, I found this novel to be a fun adventure story that explores a complex and rather original magical world. The fact that the main character was at times quite unlikeable does spoil the enjoyment a little bit, but there are moments of redemption and the interplay between him and Higgins was entertaining. Basically, if you are a fan of fantasy looking for something fun and different to read then I am more than happy to recommend this book.