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book review: Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman

Today I am reviewing the  book Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman, written by Michael Tinker Pearce and Linda Pearce.

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I would tell the authors two things, 1: please hire a copyeditor, and 2: please just tell me a freakin’ story already!

The first issue (the dire need of a copyeditor) comes from a number of problems in the book. To begin with, there’s this simple rule: “[use a comma] when “and” is being used to coordinate two independent clauses. An independent clause—also known as a main clause—is a group of words that has a subject and a verb and can stand alone as a sentence.”

It’s not that hard, but the authors just don’t seem to grasp it.

There was an ugly edge to their laughter and as he neared them he could see they were shoving someone back and forth between them.

There’s also the fact that you use a comma after an introductory clause. You don’t have to know the rule by its description to understand that the following is a bit of a mouthful without the needed comma:

As they continued around the shoulder of the mountain the High road descended down a long ramp to the valley floor.

(By the way, I won’t even start in on the inconsistent use of Oxford commas.)

Then there was the problem where the authors couldn’t decide whether to capitalize “aunt” or not. I lost count of the times the words “his Aunt” were used, only to be followed a few paragraphs later by “his aunt.” (Which is the correct one.) The same problem occurred with the word Goblin/goblin.

These things may seem trivial, but when almost every page has missing commas and capitalization problems, I was constantly being yanked out of the story.

Sadly, though, there isn’t much of a story to be yanked out of, which is my biggest complaint. I could read a run-on sentence that was one hundred pages long if the story was interesting. I think I only noticed all the editing problems because I didn’t have anything else in the book to keep my attention.

I understand the authors are writing an epic fantasy. Heck, it’s practically in the title. But one doesn’t create an epic by simply making it long and taking forever for the story to actually go anywhere. An epic is vast and sweeping, not merely telling the reader everything the people packed.

They brought with them some small things that the family might need, odds and ends like a spool of strong thread, some iron needles, a small bag of salt and a box of 14-bore slugs.

Guess what. I don’t care. Unless that spool of strong thread and bag of salt are going to save someone’s life Macgyver-style on the next page, I . . . don’t . . . care.

The pace of the story was horrendous. Things would be happening, adventure was there! . . . and then the characters have to sit in camp for a week because someone broke a leg. But don’t worry; every single day of that week is going to be described in painstaking detail. Did he shoot a rabbit, or not? Did “his Aunt” pick these herbs but not those? Fear not! All these questions will be answered.

This may be a bit of exaggeration (not much), but that’s how it felt to read this book. Seven chapters in and I felt like I had been reading for weeks. Oh, wait, I had. Because I kept putting the book down, reading another book and two novellas before I finished six chapters of this one. Nothing made me care about the protagonist because he just watched things going on around him.

What did he think about while watching? Well, after a painfully long description of how rock slabs were lifted to be a roof, we get this doozy:

Once Engvyr had heard it told it seemed like the easiest thing in the world. He reckoned that a lot of things were like that. A dwarf needed to learn to look at things in different ways when the way that he knew wouldn’t do.

Wow.

I wish I could say this was the only time the book seemed to be an epic fantasy hidden in a Life Lessons Primer, but alas, no.

“So I’ll tell you now don’t ever, ever judge a man solely because of his race. Judge him by his words, his actions and the company he keeps but not by his race.”

Didactic much? But don’t fear, father dwarf! Your son will have completely learned that lesson within a few pages when he comes to the aid of a Goblin!

Without thinking he stripped off his great-cote, threw it over the goblin and stepped between the drover and his victim.

Leaving the missing introductory clause comma aside, this sentence brings me to my next problem with the storytelling in this book: made up spellings of words to (I assume) remind the reader, “Remember: this is a FANTASY! Don’t they just talk funny in fantasy world?!”

He stripped off his great-cote.

Great-cote.

Cote.

Not coat. Cote. WHY?!

There’s also the constant use of the word hame instead of home. WHY?! (Since writing this, I have looked hame up and found it is the Scots language word for home. So no, they weren’t making that up, but the book wasn’t written in the Scots language, soooo . . . . Oh, and while we’re on the subject, a cote is a shed for pigeons. So there’s that.)

Finally, pyes instead of pies. Oh, look, “his Aunt” is going to make Travel Pyes to take on the journey!

And that’s where I stopped. Only 18% of the way into the book (Chapter 7 of 36), and I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t read another sentence. I rarely put down a book, because usually I have to know what happens. In this case though, I just don’t care. I mean, I guess from the title he becomes a rifleman, but nothing about him or his life in those first seven chapters made me care at all.

If I hadn’t been given a free copy of this book to review, I wouldn’t have even made it that far. Pyes was just the final straw in a haystack of problems with this book.

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