Sunday, June 19, 2011

Journey - one ends, another begins - Franz Mclaren and Me

Over the course of the years that I’ve been writing for public consumption, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of people (both in person and virtually) who I immediately liked and who enriched the entire author’s experience. A few months ago, I decided that I would devote a period of my time to helping other independent authors garner a measure of recognition for their creative efforts. The road of the independent author is a particularly difficult one, fraught with no dearth of daunting obstacles and it occurred to me that it might be easier to surmount these by working together, rather than taking the go-it-alone, competitive route. If nothing else should come of this particular venture, my recompense will have been had in developing friendships with other authors from every corner of the globe.

Like myself, Franz Mclaren is a fellow fantasy and horror novelist and like myself, Franz is rather along in years. Thus we share common passions and perhaps…common perspectives of being old soldiers in a young warrior’s game. Whatever the reason, I found a sense of the kindred spirit in communicating with Mr. Mclaren. Franz has recently released the final volume of his Clarion of Destiny fantasy series, entitled Journey's End:

Those who know me well, will know that I have a natural aversion to posting reviews…especially reviews of independent authors. I’m rather dubious of the currency to be gained by posting a positive review of an indie author's work just as I am all too aware of the damage that can be done by the casual cruelty that often accompanies a negative review of an author whose stock is yet to be defined. After reading the first volume of the Clarion of Destiny series…Home Lost…I decided to make a rare exception to this self-imposed rule.

I will let the review speak of itself in the hopes that the sincerity of my reaction to this novel will be readily apparent even to the most cynical of readers:

Home Lost is the first of Mr. Mclaren’s Clarion of Destiny fantasy series and revolves around Leena, a village hedge witch in training. The novel opens as the young girl returns from a trip to the symbolic Garland tree to discover her home village ravaged and her family gone, along with the other village inhabitants. The opening volume focuses on Leena’s attempt to discover what has befallen her family…a journey that will lead her on an epic quest to unravel the mysteries of her destiny. I will not delve into specific details. Rather I will concentrate on the tone and style of the writing. Perhaps this novel was intended for a young adult audience, but Home Lost is a comparatively simple fantasy tale, but many fantasy tales begin this way and evolve as they progress. It is a pleasant, easy read that will not require a score card to keep track of the pantheon of Gods and religions that one would need to wade through other fantasy offerings. This simplicity does not detract from the fact that this novel is a tremendously pleasing tale suited for genre lovers of all ages. What I enjoyed about Mr. Mclaren’s novel is the innocence that permeates every sentence of the story…far removed from the cynicism and vitriol that infects much of our literature in today’s world. I find myself thinking of this novel in terms of adjective that I have not associated with the fantasy genre …sweet and endearing. Even the resolutions of the story’s conflicts were achieved without the obligatory buckets of blood and viscera and this demonstrated a creative sensibility I've seldom seen. Technically, Mr. Mclaren’s writing evokes comparison with Terry Goodkind in his use of narrative and the interrogative as a means of exploring a character’s internal thought process. This mechanism suits the story well.

The lasting impact of this novel is what compels me to give it the highest recommendation…this is a fantasy story with both innocence and a gentle grace that is refreshing and delightful.

Franz and I take markedly different approaches to the crafting of creative fiction, but these are technical and mechanical differences. If there is a commonality that links us as creative writers, I believe it is to be found in our perspectives on good and evil and the inherent distinctions that separate the two…distinctions that have become increasingly obscure in much of today’s fiction. In Franz’s fantasy offering, these distinctions are made refreshingly obvious from the outset. In my admittedly darker works, the reader will be required to sift through that darkness, but fundamental belief that there should be a discernable difference between the actions of the protagonist and the antagonists of the story is there to be found. It is adherence to this belief that good should be held to a higher account, that is never sacrificed in the name of expedience, that stands as a commonality between Franz and myself.

In the weeks to come, I will release the first volume of my fantasy series, entitled Journey through the Land of Shades. Along with this first installment, I have decided to include the first chapter of Clarion of Destiny: Home Lost along with the review that I have posted above. In the spirit of reciprocity, Mr. Mclaren has graciously agreed to do the same in Journey’s End…for which I am most grateful. I hope readers of both series will take the time to read this bonus content and then go on to explore the creative universes of both writers…For my part, I will post reviews on The Clarion series as I read each volume and I look forward to working with Franz over the course of the years to come.
You can learn more about the works of Franz Mclaren at

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