When Elephants Fly by Alexander De Pego (Book Review)
Rating: 3/5 — No flying elephants here.
Link to purchase: Amazon
An excellent adventure, full of twists and turns, marred by poor editing and pacing.
Safe to say that Alesander De Pego hit the ball out of the park when it comes to the premises of the novel. It’s something fresh and new, and definitely drew me into the wider plot of the novel that felt as broad as it could be for a novella, hinting at a wider lore and a larger world to explore.
The protagonist is a well-rounded character and (thankfully) not infallible. He has powers that most would dream off but, the way it’s utilised, it sounds more like he’s putting himself through utter hell. His selflessness, kindness and abilities really stuck out for me, and the slow unveil of the extent of his powers is what kept me turning the pages until the very end.
Despite it’s strengths, it clearly lacks a good editor looking over the manuscript, correcting grammar mistakes and creating more suitable sentence structure, especially for some of the dialogue and descriptions, which sound clunky when reading.
One of the most important aspects for any fantasy novel is the power-set and the development of that power set into a deep magical system. A key theme in it’s development is the slow unveil of the power set to the readers, so that they are not overwhelmed or bored by the fact that the protagonist, or his/her allies, are clearly overpowered.
Fortunately, and brilliantly, Alexander avoids this problem by weaving the protagonists powers into the narrative of the story. This helps to not only build the protagonist’s legitimacy but it also avoids the problem mentioned earlier, that of disengagement because of how powerful or invincible the main character is. By slowly showing the extent and limit of the protagonists gifts, as well as the price he pays for using those gifts, it allows the reader to be continuously invested in the story, as well as rooting for the protagonist who, by the end of the novel, is clearly invincible, to defeat his foe forever.
His undeniable powers, coupled by the heavy price he pays for using them, emotionally and mentally, serves up a complex protagonist that only heightens the quality of this brilliant novella.
Heart Stopping Action
The best aspect of this novel, for me, were clearly the action sequences. Fantasy novel action sequences are always fun, what with swords, magic and dragons in the mix, but Alexander was able to take it up another notch. It’s well paced, well written and clearly Alexander’s main focus when writing this novella, that the fight sequences thrill and spill, racing from one brilliant set piece to another.
For a short novella, the action sequences are well thought out, as detailed as you would find in a full-length novel, with twists and turns in the midst of battle which had me at the edge of my seat (or, in this case, at the edge of my bed!) for most of my reading time. The fight sequences are also weaved well into the overall narrative and I can only give my hats off to Alexander making the fight sequences as entertaining as they were, despite the short page count.
Sentence Structure, Grammar & Word Choices
Alas, here comes the problem. I’m not one to air my issues with editing, with the understanding that many indie authors (like myself) have little time and little money to search and pay for a good editor to read through our manuscript.
However, in a novella, I’m afraid I can’t declare the above a valid excuse. There are some moments, especially near the beginning of the book, where the editing needs work. Sentence structure is also a big issue, the pacing feeling just slightly off during some parts in the first few chapters of the book. Thankfully, this is not a problem from the middle part onwards, with better editing, structure and grammar being used, which finishes off the novel satisfactorily.
I do believe that good editing and proof reading is something that Alexander will need to work on for future projects. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a good fantasy novella to fill your weekends, and you have the capacity to ignore weak editing in favour of a thrilling story, this novella is for you.