I decided to take on an ARC review of The Shield Road by Dewi Hargreaves because the description sounded interesting. I’m having a historic fantasy moment and the fact the stories in the tome were short sounded refreshing. Getting into a dense single arc piece of fiction sounds intimidating right now. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe its the virus. Who knows.
So, I got my hands on the copy and figured I’d do up four reviews for the next couple of weeks on what I thought of the stories.
The first one we’re starting with is The Tree of Morh.
Usually formatting gets to me. However, after realizing that I opened up an already formatted doc into google docs to read the ARC copy, I had to let that hesitation go and ignore it. FYI, if you preformat a doc and send it, the recipient opening it might lose the formatting. It’s neither party’s fault, but it is something to be aware of and not fault the author for. I’ve seen enough people get on to others about bad formatting because of this exact reason.
Once I got beyond that and dived into the story, it wrapped me up pretty quickly. There were a couple turns of phrase that came off more as young adult than adult, but that noticeable issue faded as the story progressed. I don’t read a lot of YA, only reason it was more prevalent in my acknowledgment of the genre. Those are easily overlooked though.
For it being a short story, the author does a great job of twisting back and forth between points of view of the characters. It flows seamlessly in that regard. I can easily see this as a short animation piece in the same vein as Vinland Saga. Probably not the intention of the author. Maybe more suited to Kingdom of Heaven in the blue toned scenes of winter or the live action rendition of King Arthur. I like equating to anime and manga though, so that’s what you’re getting.
The first story reads like a person who stepped into a dungeon level in Skyrim and wanted to explore what it would be like to work over a mission on one of the mountains, wandered in, and decided to actually not make themselves an OP character. Rather a fun concept.
That, and there’s a hint of the animated version of Castlevania in here with Theod’s character.
Also. I have to love the ending for this short story. It’s endearing.
Now, if you want to actually know what happened, you’re gonna need to go read it yourself.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.