Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Two reviews of independently published novels

Dead Heat
By Richard Sanders, 2011

Richard Sanders is a pro. Even if you don’t read the introduction/foreword, where he tells the reader of his time at People magazine and the low points in his life, the tight and clear style of his writing tell you: this writer knows what he’s doing, and he does it very well.

There are a few typos and a missing word or two in this e-book, but no more than any commercially published novel.

Dead Heat, a political thriller, proves that independent authors measure up to the best of commercially published titles with a fast-paced plot devoid of any holes. There’s action almost from the first page, and at no point does the story risk losing the reader’s interest. There is only one coincidence, which comes in at the beginning and launches the story. After that, the plot moves logically. As I said, Sanders knows what he’s doing.

On the other hand, Sanders threw in quite a few red herrings. Several times, I thought I had the killer worked out, thought “oh, no, he’s going that way?” But Sanders proved me wrong. I did not see the ending coming, and the resolution made perfect sense.

The strongest point, though, are the believable characters. Most of them are likeable, in some way, but the real test is that I feel like I have met most of them at some point in my life. I’m sure I’m related to some of them.

From the details and the emotions Sanders describes in his characters, it seems he also has been around at least one political campaign. He captures the political reality in the US today in all its pathetic, aggravating, exhilarating, tawdry, shameful and inspiring highs and lows.

I also have to wonder how much of an investigator he was: all the details rang true. Thankfully, the hero does not exhibit any outstanding heroics. He’s not Superman or Bruce Willis, which is a relief—there are way too much ridiculous heroics in this kind of literature.

I literally could not put this book down. Here, again, is an independent author that the big publishers should be looking for.

Xannu - The Prophecy
By Paul Dorset, 2011

Xannu - The Prophecy is further proof that commercial publishers have no monopoly on writing talent or writing quality. This is a good read with believable and entertaining characters, and a plot that pulls you along.

Dorset sets up a YA fantasy that follows many of the conventions of the genre: an invented world where countries have strange names, technology is at the level of the middle ages and magic works. Strange monsters plague humanity. At first, that was a turn-off for me. I am looking for something different. But I found that right at the beginning of the novel, when the main character has a conversation with the Power Almighty.

Dorset also inserts another twist on the fantasy trope with characters who travel between his invented world and a very prosaic, middle-class suburban reality. That's not really new, of course---think CS Lewis---but I really identified with Dorset's homey characterizations. He is very good at breathing life into his characters.
All his characters are fallible and funny, even the Power Almighty and his opposite, the power of evil.

There's a lot of humour, from the personality of the bumbling warrior-hero, to the frustrated ire of the Power Almighty (not so almighty, it seems), to the name of the tall quasi-humans, "Upthairs."

Personally, I was a little dismayed by the appearance of the princess and other royalty in this book. Maybe that's just me, but I enjoy stories about regular people far more. Still, in this plot, the royalty makes sense. And again, they are believable characters in their roles.

The quality of writing is very high in this e-book. There were no more typos or formatting errors than I have seen in typical print books from the biggest publishers. With books like this available on e-bookstores, there's no way that the big publishers can claim to be better than any independent author.

There is only one drawback: to get to the end of the actual story, I have to buy the next book in the series!


  1. I love a great series that makes me forget about the world and totally captures me. Nice reviews.

  2. Great reviews - I'll have to check these out! Thanks for sharing! <3

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