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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: The Canker Death by James R. Bottino

This unusual, well written fantasy left me with mixed feelings.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 836 KB
  • Publisher: Septimus Press (August 22, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
Genre:  Fantasy
My Rating:  3.0 of 5.0

Product Description
When the reclusive, cynical systems administrator, Petor Fidelistro, discovers that one of his own servers has been cracked late one night, he makes it his personal business to track down the perpetrator. What his search uncovers thrusts him, unaware, into a mad shifting between worlds, time and alien minds.

Fighting to keep his grip on reality, and forcing him to cope with his past, Petor finds himself uncontrollably transitioning between sentient minds that range from semi-conscious to dominant, from beings whose bodies and identities he can control, to those who control him so fully as to be unaware of his presence. As the story unfolds, Petor gathers clues in a twisting mystery that sends him shifting between the mourning child Nanzicwital; the golem giant Faskin; the lascivious, female ambassador Desidia; and Nokinis, an insane prisoner with whom Petor battles for mastery of his own memories. As he struggles to make sense of what is happening to him, Petor finds himself embroiled in the tumultuous upheaval of a ubiquitous society that transcends life, itself.

This is a well told and interesting story but I never figured out where it was heading or more importantly the end purpose. Let me address the positives first. The story is nicely written with very good flow and a good mix of action with some philosophical musings. The characters are delightful, especially the protagonist Petor and his four distinct and unique alien hosts (each identified in the blurb above). Also Petor has three good friends in his adventures. These are Faith, a human like female, with whom he is infatuated; Arrs, an almost human like male, who is the bold warrior and his female host’s (Desidia’s) lover and protector; and Pencha, another fierce creature, a mix of gorilla and black cat, who was once an enemy but is at times a friend. Then there is the very evil puppet master against whom the others, as a “counsel”, fight. The puppet master may be compared to Satan as an almost all knowing malevolent entity who manipulates those he touches to cause hatred, strife and even the massacre of whole species.

All of this is quite engaging but I had problems. The book is very long at 8476 in Kindle mode compared to a 419 page novel of 3846 pages on the Kindle. Even though I enjoyed the characters and found the story interesting I kept wondering where it was going and what was the point. I pushed through because I was committed. Petor has a past history of a few years in a mental asylum and I at times wondered if he was imagining all of the fantasy in a madness mode. I was glad that wasn't the explanation. There is a final confrontation with the evil one and maybe I was disappointed because I didn’t like the outcome. But the real problem was I didn’t understand the purpose.  Then again, maybe it was just an entertaining story that had an ending that I didn't like because it didn't make sense to me..

Even if a story is merely for entertainment, I like it to have an understandable resolution. This story seemed to be trying to make a statement: about our souls, our perceived religions, or perhaps on one’s lack of control in life. There are brief discussions of politics (like krytocracy - rule by judges), religions and reincarnation. But in the end I didn’t get it. At best it seemed a message of no hope: “There was no hope, and there could be no hope.” location 8476. That is unsatisfactory to me. I admit, as an attorney my brain is pretty pragmatic rather than creative and although I liked the fantasy, I was confused on where this ended. Perhaps other readers would get more from this, which seems the case from the good ratings that can be found at Amazon. Perhaps if I was willing to read this a second time, (which I can’t say I am at this time), I might understand more. Unfortunately, when I finished this long book after four days, I was left flat and disappointed.

 Thank you to the author and Pump Up Your Book Blog Tours for this book to read and review.

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