Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
Blurb: In a move that defies all logic and likelihood, a young boy named Spiff is called upon to carry out the most important quest that has ever been undertaken. His mission drags him headlong across the face of the world, through a veritable pantheon of hardships and threats that are at once chilling and baffling. Along the way he meets dragons and madmen, and learns that the lovable and the monstrous are two sides of the same coin.
Conceived as a darkly whimsical loose retelling of the Tolkien saga, The Long Way poses the question that high fantasy rarely cares to ask: Why?
Book Review by Kevin: A BookRix Team Member:
A friend threw this book at me with Harry Potter and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series as references, and the blurb mentions the Tolkien saga so I had an idea of the terrain; magic, magical critters; trolls, gremlins, wizards, elves, human types. For those of you who haven’t read this book yet, AR’s [Aaron Redern] got it going on! It’s a wild adventure with both familiar and really unusual characters. Some pretty cool stuff. It’s quite a trip.
There are lots of levels. Straight up excellent story-telling of a journey of search and discovery. It’s rich and gooey with abandon and insight. It reads like an homage to the tradition (of crazy fun) of which AR is obviously a big fan. In this generous offering of crazy fun he upholds those references and introduces some very unique twists and characters. This book rocks big!
In the beginning, our hero’s father, Scoff, lives and works on the farm he will one day inherit. Then one day, he receives a beautiful, seemingly innocent, gold and emerald ring in exchange for some handyman tasks he performed for a wizard. The ring, he then bestows upon his beloved Clara before asking for her hand in marriage. After more than a decade of married life, the wizard demands they return the ring to him without any kind of explanation or offer of compensation. Considering how a demand from a wizard isn’t a request, they send the ring back in the hands of their young off-spring, Spiff.
Spiff, the type who is often lost in whimsy, is in his own world until, in a flash, what was securely in his hand is snatched away. Now, empty-handed, he has no recourse but to pursue the thief fearing punishment from his father for the failed delivery, and the possibility of being turned into something small and slimy by an angry wizard. Fortunately he runs right into the wizard just as he is about to become something’s lunch and is saved. For the most part.
The explanation from the wizard about the importance of recapturing the ring falls upon ears without references or desire to understand. Spiff somehow only acknowledges his own silent fears and concerns for his own safety while almost hearing about things he could care less about: “He wondered why he was being told all of this and whether he would still be turned in to a worm. He didn’t want to live in a jar.” Well, he is a little young to be bothered by such things, right?
Before being scooted off to the unknown to retrieve the ring, the wizard arms him with tools to keep him alive to complete the task, including the assistance and company of an amazing critter, aptly named Euclid, who is kinda handy to have around and real, real funny.
The travel is all on foot and the sudden climates and terrain changes turn a long walk into punishment. One really gets that “real time” feeling when the passing of time is punctuated by occurrences one can’t immediately explain or understand; the behavior of people and beings one needs time to observe before deciding if they’re friend or foe. It reminded me of Carlos Casteneda and how Don Juan was constantly whispering in his ear. Even Euclid didn’t have all the answers all the time.
From the hilarious suggestions of the healers, the Merai; all comfort and refuge. Sanctuary. Euclid notes, “There’s nothing wrong with them, (but)…A place like this can’t exist… Life is change and imperfection, but nothing ever happens here….this place is a bubble” to the Nornmen, who live to fight, and the poetic wisdom of the last wooly Mammoth. There are such beautifully unique layers from each. Rich. Aye.
Euclid’s “reminders” to Spiff, who isn’t up for any of it, especially after getting to know the Merai, to allow himself to see the situation for what it is, “…you have to take it [the ring] there. There is no other way. Those are the rules. There’s no cheating… Can’t you just accept what you have to do?…don’t you realize what’s at stake?”, like Don Juan’s prodding of Carlos (Carlitos) to do something similar. The path.
All Spiff wants is to return that dang ring (somewhere, anywhere) and just go back to the comfort and safety of his home, his parents, and his life as his companion asked, “Why do I have to keep pushing you every step of the way?” There’s a few times when fatigue takes him off and in dreams he’s shown the historical significance, the unavoidable, dire importance of it all and his pivotal role in it, in Technicolor®. He could care less about any of it of course, so he tends to forget about it right away or just ignore it.
This is excellent reading, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the follow up!
*FYI – The Long Way is part one of a two book series – Check out The Forgotten Way to find out what happens to Spiff after the world is saved.
AND now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – THE GIVEAWAY!
At the end of the tour, BookRix will be giving away three great prizes to three lucky winners:
1st prize: A $100 Amazon gift card, a BookRix Sampler Pack (several great eBooks published by BookRix members), a copy of the newly released The Long Way, and also some great swag (t-shirts, bookmarks)!
2nd Prize: A $50 Amazon gift card and two free eBooks!
3rd Prize: A $25 Amazon gift card and a free eBook!
You know you want those prizes, so sign-up for the giveaway for your chance to win!
To follow the tour, please visit The Long Way Tour Schedule Page.
Aaron Redfern: Bio
Aaron has written three novels, including The Long Way and its sequel, The Forgotten Way. His short-fiction titles include Stories About the Rain and Crawl.
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