Review: Outpost by F.T. McKinstry

Series: The Fylking #1
Published by: self-published
ISBN: 1516998626
ISBN 13: 9781516998623
Published: November 2015
Pages: 351
Format reviewed: ePub for SPFBB 2016
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five

This was read for the final round of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016 hosted by Mark Lawrence, more of which can be read here.

Broken into three main POV characters, we start off with Arcamel, a warden, who can see invisible (to others) creatures. This makes the start interesting as we immediately learn that the creatures aren’t necessarily good or bad – they’re tricky, which is always a winner for me. We also have Othin, a ranger, and Melisandre, who at first seems like a herbalist and craftswoman (yay, knitting!) but its her journey of discovery and coming into power that drives much of the novel. Which is good, as I’m mighty tired of women being there just as healers.

Through action and hardship they all join each other – Arcamel having cast away his familiars, Othin having to turn away from his employer, and Melisandre cast from her village for her unfathomable powers. Along with some background characters we have a very enjoyable book if you like to read for character rather than plot – not that this lacks for plot at all, only that it’s history, world-building, magic-system, and character-heavy.

This is character driven and so I should love it. However parts drag here and there simply because some parts felt rushed and others dragged with slight info-dumping, nothing a determined line editor couldn’t vastly improve. A few parts meander slightly which made it a little too easy to put down in places, but we’re rewarded with a decent ending. A few parts were vastly American which threw me out of the story completely (nothing is more annoying than their penchant for ‘could care less’, which makes no sense…) which is a shame, as it reminds you you’re not actually in some other world at all.

The romance in this book is slight and well-handled, feeling like one of the more realistic elements of the book. They didn’t exaggerate or wax poetically about their misfortunes, and you’re left really hoping that things come out alright for them.

Overall this is a decent self-published book, but it needs work in places to be considered beyond that. There’s a triggering scene which I felt could have used some work (though I’m possibly a harsh critic on this topic at the moment. And I’m just reading The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon which is handling it the best I’ve ever seen, so…) and overall… this would have to be my second favourite book read for this challenge.

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