Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Punishment of the Gods by Jake Yaniak

           I've always been one to enjoy a good story, even when I was younger I thoroughly enjoyed books. My first, true, love were the epic fantasy stories that riddled shelves and told stories of lands that only existed in the minds of the author and reader. Nobody else knew what it was like to scale Mount Doom with a hobbit, nobody else knew what it was like to travel within the mines under the spine of the world mountains with Drizzt Do'urden and company, nobody but me and the authors.

          For that reason I was delighted when author Jake Yaniak approached me via Goodreads in regards to a review for his story The Punishment of the Gods, though I did feel a bit of trepidation as well quite honestly; as I stated earlier I was a fantasy enthusiast and worried that I wouldn't be able to give a fair review when compared to the authors I considered 'the greats', well still consider.

          The Punishment of the Gods begins with a short forward from the Narrator, who in this case is also the author of this epic story. This is a technique that many writers, not just in the fantasy genre, attempt but not may can fully pull off due to the changing of verb tenses throughout. The positive note on this is that Yaniak really paid attention to this fact, which is a feet in my opinion when the massive word count of nearly 300,000 is considered, and this attention to detail sells the impression that the reader is being told this epic tale, or tales, while sitting around the fire.

          The book itself is broken into 5 separate parts, The Narrator refers to them as 5 'books' and they are rightly called that by their length alone. The first three of these books don't seem to merge much, but just as the events in the Lord of the Rings franchise seemed insignificant on their own, they all converge in the final two books in the most wonderful of ways.

          As I mentioned the word count in this book is astronomical, if you check out Yaniak's about the author page on Good Reads you'll see what I mean by this, and it shows his devotion to his genre. Throughout the book you don't find a lot of repeating of ideas, and instead there is a flow about it that keeps you moving forward the entire time. There is a bit of a snag in the amount of detail sometimes, as if Yaniak is trying a little too hard to put you in the story, though this is easily offset in the detail during the battle scenes and other interactions that put you more into the center of the action rather than just skimming through a poorly choreographed fight scene.

          Another part of this attention to detail, and this is one I can't stress enough how other authors in this genre should take note of Yaniak, that truly sets this story above others in its class is the detail the characters are given. Each character, in particular the main characters but even most of the ancillary ones, are described in such detail that you can't help but fall in love with them.

          There are a ton of pros in this book, not just due to the length, and its hard to list the ones that I feel are 'most important' for this story. Here are the three that I feel highlight Yaniak's ability and the true successes of The Punishment of the Gods:

  • The attention to detail is simply amazing for somebody who is a new author, let alone a new author that wrote a nearly 300,000 word manuscript. For those of us that have even dipped a big toe into the pole of writing can respect that. From the tallest mountain on this world, to the most crowded battlefield and even a 'spirit world' you find yourself truly visualizing the places you're taken to.

  • Yaniak maintains a consistent language throughout. I mean two things by this; the first being that the novel was written from the point of view of The Narrator and there is little to no deterrence from that, and the tense is maintained. I also mean the way the Narrator speaks, and by that I mean the language and the way The Narrator speaks. It feels like one person rather than the frequent changes is a character's 'personality' that is often accompanied when a character has a stronger voice than others.

  • The final 'pro' I feel deserves mention is the way Yaniak writes in his characters. This really goes hand in hand with his attention to detail, but at the same time it really is a huge selling point in itself. While many times in the fantasy genre writers take a species thought up by another, change the name and describe it just a little differently to give it an ere of creativity. The characters in The Punishment of the Gods really do feel different, I'm especially a fan of the way the goblin characters are depicted. I don't want to give too much away but think less 'little green man' and more of the idea of the goblins personalities as they're depicted in other tales.

          Though the 'pros' are abundant and I could write my own feature-length story using them, I must say the cons are not so readily available. Its always possible to knit-pick the subtleties in any story that you don't care for, and if you look they're always found. I was able to come up with really only a single 'con' that wouldn't result from me knit picking small details of the story.

  • The length sort of becomes a double-edged sword. On a positive note it showcases, as I said before, Yaniak's ability to hold an audience's attention, but on the downside is it just seems a bit long for a single work.

          In the end Yaniak's The Punishment of the Gods is a creative, fresh edition to a genre that many times tends to get lost in the same story retold in different ways. Though the length can be a little daunting, and a turn off for some, but the way the story flows and the authors writing keeps you vested throughout.

Overall I'm going to give The Punishment of the Gods an 8/10 based on:

  • 7/10 for readability- I'm giving this a 7 simply due to the length and the length alone. This is more of a personal preference but I almost feel as though the story would have been better broken up into 5 actually separate books in a series other than 5 books in one.

  • 9/10 for story- Yaniak delivers a solid, fresh story that feels both new and familiar at the same time. Each book tells its own story and each of those stories becomes on epic tale that truly shows the authors dedication to his craft and his drive to create something new.

  • 8/10 for characters- Each character in this book has his/her own personality, which is sometimes a problem with newer authors; especially when you consider the amount of characters over the span of the story. Each one, in particular the main ones, is described in such a way that you have no trouble forming a picture of them in your mind.

  • 9/10 for passion- The writer's passion truly comes out in this book. While I know that this is an odd X-factor to choose, and that most of us that have a story to tell do so with passion and conviction. There aren't a lot of us that can truly put that passion onto paper and have it come out. You truly can feel that this is Yaniak's baby and for me that gives it an X-factor that not a lot of people are able to obtain, even with years of published works under their belt.

          I want to send a big thank you to Jake Yaniak for approaching me with the opportunity to read and review his book. Overall I found it to be a great, original, read that was both daunting  but enjoyable. I definitely recommend picking it up. Don't plan on getting through it in one sitting, but I can promise its a great introduction into an author that will continue honing his craft and creating new and interesting characters and stories.

If you would like to check out The Punishment of the Gods you can find it on Amazon here. (There's currently a $0.99 price tag on it for the kindle version.)

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