The Art of Blindness
by J. L. Williams
Abandoned in a magical forest as a baby, Sendjuit learns to fend for himself like a wild animal, until he is eventually adopted by Helio, prince of Abram, and trained to be his bodyguard and companion. Even after he is blinded in an accident, Sendjuit still manages to become a fearsome warrior, defending Helio and facing threats from the forest and the enemy kingdom of Dorcas. In many ways this is a classic hero's journey, with a big dose of romance toward the end.
While the writing is not quite up to professional grade, this is still a satisfying read. There's a lot of misuse of language, and the medieval-ish fantasy world is not 100% internally consistent. The characters all talk and behave like young teens, which is great when they are young, but not as convincing when they are adults. There's a very high school feel to many of the interactions, especially with the few female characters. And the ending is repeated twice, kind of like two drafts of the same scenes. It really reads like something written by a precocious child.
However, it is much better written than the average fantasy on fictionpress, and well worth paying for. The story is completely original, with a lot of fast-paced action and suspense. The romance is very touching.
Sendjuit is an appealing character--although he wild and kind of bratty in the beginning, he develops into a loyal and surprisingly tender young man. The depiction of his blindness is ok but not totally realistic. He relies on a supernatural sense of smell, which I guess is linked to a curse that makes him part wolf, but he develops that power before the curse, so again, not fully consistent. However, it didn't bother me too much. And it's not just the blindness, there's a lot of "wounded hero" stuff all through the book. From the moment Send loses two fingers as a young child, he keeps getting injured over and over. I found the dev factor pretty high despite all the magic. And there's no magical cure, which is probably a first for a for a blind character in a fantasy setting. The narration is from Send's point of view, also not something authors attempt often, and it's done pretty well.
Despite its flaws, I still enjoyed reading this a lot. I've never read anything quite like it. The writer has a lot of raw talent, but really needs a professional editor.
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