I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.
Never’s adventurous quest in search of his lost heritage, and the answers to the many questions plaguing him about his nature and past, goes on. Together with faithful Luis, the former treasure hunter, and Tsolde, a young woman who joined the company in the previous installment of the series, he continues in his perilous journey across a world that seems to reserve the most incredible – and sometimes frightening – surprises just for him, as if the rest of humanity were blissfully unaware of the weirdness that lives just outside of their collective sight.
With this new segment in Never’s series I felt more clearly than before the videogame-like quality of this story: although I’m no gamer, I am aware of the structure of role-playing quests, so that each new encounter, each new danger that the group faces does indeed feel like a new level in a game, with the stakes being raised after every successful accomplishment, and new skills being called into play. This impression is strengthened by the narrative structure, by the box-within-a-box sequence of episodes where the solution to the riddle does not bring success, but rather a new – and more difficult – challenge to overcome.
As I said before, this can be both compelling and frustrating, because the intelligence Never so painfully gathers seems to lead him nowhere, except toward new tasks and new trials. The narrative structure does not help in defeating the aggravation either, because the serialized form of this novel subjects the reader to longish waits between installments, that always end in a more or less harrowing cliffhanger. After the end of this fourth chapter in The Book of Never, I reached the conclusion that the author does indeed enjoy torturing his readers… 🙂
If, until now, the characters have not enjoyed a thorough characterization, since the story is more plot-driven than character-oriented, in The Peaks of Autumn I saw something change in Never, and in a major way: his companions become something more precious for him than simple travel mates, and Never feels the huge burden of responsibility for their fate. This looks like a mixed blessing, because until recently Never was used to fend for himself alone, and to hell with the consequences, but now he’s been entrusted with the lives of two people, two persons he cares about quite deeply, and this seems to somehow weaken him, making him more vulnerable. Yet, at the same time, this new-found awareness makes him more human and approachable, and at the same time gives a new, interesting layer to his personality.
Finally, I would like to spend a few words for the cover: I’ve been enthusiastic about every cover for this serialized novel, but this new one surpasses all the preceding ones, both in subject and in color choice: it’s very dramatic and eye-catching, and it complements very well the book’s contents. If it’s true that you should never judge a book by its cover, it’s also true that a good cover can be a powerful enticement….
The Peaks of Autumn will reach the shelves today, so I’m more than happy to celebrate its arrival, looking forward to knowing more about Never and his companions in the future installments of the story.