The Sons of Thestian by M.E Vaughan. Book review

The Sons of Thestian by M.E Vaughan, Mag Mell Publishing, £9.99
Reviewed by Josie Pymm
Book one of the Harmatia cycle follows the brooding young magi Rufus Merle and his tempestuous relationship with the veracious Prince Jionathan. So the blurb states, Jonathan (or Jionat for short) is “plagued by visions of his death” and so, escapes his walled city. Rufus embarks on a rescue mission and a dangerous adventure ensues.

The character of Rufus is by far the best part of the narrative. The character is fairly well developed and full of surprises. Although his penchant for brooding in the corner and the emphasis on his odd hair-pulling habit feel forced, there’s a twist towards the conclusion of the book that go some way to explaining his behaviour. Not that this shock twist was alluded to for more than a handful of fleeting scenes in the previous chapters but it makes for a good storytelling tool nonetheless.

However, the trouble with this book is that it feels rushed. The story isn’t as developed as it could have been, nor is the history offered in the glossary and preceding map. For example, the bloodline diagram of the Gods at the beginning of the book matched with the small map seem very simple. The complaint is not that the book wasn’t hard enough to read, merely that the tone of the book implies a much more complex world than we’re actually presented with.

As the additional material does very little in explaining the world we’re enveloped in, you find yourself reading long explanations from characters within the story. Stories of myths and legends as long as the land itself has existed which begs the question, why do all the characters have to have this explained to them? Surely these are tales they’ve known from childhood?

Similarly, I found the metaphor construction in the book to be lacking. The use of “as if” prior to every metaphor insertion is bad practice and lazy. The author may benefit from restructuring the metaphors to make more sense within the context or indeed, use simpler descriptive language. Although the fiction writer prefers to pour creativity into their work, simply inserting flowery words and preempting them with “as if” is a rookie error.

In instances where Vaughan’s analogies form a part of the sentence, it often makes little sense. For example, “a cold fury illuminating his lightless eyes.” The indication that the light comes from within the subject and his anger. With hindsight, this is a foreboding warning from the character in question but when reading, it’s a contradiction of terms that makes for terrible imagery.

All in all, the concept and story are good ideas and with more thought and a much better editor, it would have been a fantastic start to this series. The presence of typos and lazy metaphor insertion lets it down demonstrably.