The Best of Men by Wilf Jones. Ebook review

The Best of Men (Song of Ages) by Wilf Jones, Sorcerer’s Ship Press, Kindle £4.99

Reviews by Rex Sumner

This is epic fantasy on a grand scale and I came to the book with great anticipation.  The start is complicated, with new lands to learn and new people to understand, new names to register.  The author has gone to a great deal of trouble to invent new names, countries, history (which is huge) and peoples.  It is rather dumped on the reader straight away, which leaves you gasping a little and trying to put everyone in their proper place.
Various participants are introduced and it slowly comes together as the wizard Seama tries to work out the threat that faces the kingdoms.  I think there are four kingdoms of note, which although usually peaceful are gearing up for war, which Seama tries to avert.  There is an unpleasant company of four magicians and about a hundred bandits who are laying waste to one of the kingdoms and are seen as working for another.  Seama heads off to stop them while sending his colleague off to investigate the north, where he fears a far worse intrusion.  He is not happy at having to face the bandits, as he sees them as a secondary problem – and of course he is right.
Slowly more of the history is revealed and it begins to make sense.  Seama comes to the fore as the focal character and we come to the first battle in what looks like a long struggle between good and evil.
Wilf is a talented writer, who makes no mistakes with his grammar and structure.  I find some of his pacing a little slow, as he tries to shoehorn a massive history into the tale.  His character development could be faster as you take a while to warm to characters and perhaps the most endearing is actually the Mule, who has a very minor part!  I am not a great fan of invented names, and there is little to distinguish one country from another but this should not take away from a well-structured story that sticks to the plot with each person playing his part and acting consistently.
The author is not a military man as is evident in his battle scenes but sensibly does not go into depth and the general sweep of strategy is satisfying and simple to follow – I take issue with the actions of his generals, who are very unprofessional in their attitude to one another, but this is very common in fantasy.  In general the battle and fight scenes are fine with some gruesome detail.  Sex is handled very matter of factly, and is referred to while not actually happening, though the reader anticipates that something will happen with two of the minor characters and this anticipation is drawn out nicely for some time, including a little jealousy.  There is considerable rape and violence, which is skated over and not indulged.
No love stories, although the wizard does love his horse, and very little irrational behaviour, which is soon punished when it happens.  Some very intricate political scheming and a very fearsome and powerful enemy is being created.  One wonders how the forces of good will prevail.