Review of Tribesman by Paul Freeman

11 Feb

Fresh off the press…my review of Tribesman by Paul Freeman.

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Tribesman has the makings to be an excellent novel. However, it fell short for me on several levels. Overall, the story was intriguing and well-paced, and kept me reading until the very end. That being said, there were numerous moments where I contemplated putting it down altogether. I am glad that I gave it the benefit of the doubt and kept reading.

The strengths of this book lie in the two main characters, Culainn and Persha. From the beginning, you get a glimpse of the somewhat stereotypical fantasy archetypes; the damaged warrior/hero and the dark and exotic female who may or may not have magical powers. What sets them apart in Tribesman is Freeman’s characterization.  They were well-developed and the burgeoning relationship between them really added to the storyline. Secondary characters were also treated with the same deft touch. Well done.

The story itself morphed over time from one seemingly innocuous quest to find a merchant’s missing daughter into a journey that becomes more dangerous. This was also well done. I felt the story moved, with only the occasional bits of backstory that I felt were unnecessary.

What I didn’t like were the numerous editorial (mostly punctuation, more than a few grammatical) errors and the tendency of the author to tell me the story, not show me. While it moved well, I felt as though I were being told a tale, rather than being immersed in it. There were quite a few well-written passages, but overall, I felt the story needed the heavy hand of a good editor to bring to life the tale that was offered.

Would I read another novel by Mr. Freeman? Begrudgingly. My enjoyment of the work was overshadowed by the errors and the bits of lackluster writing. Were that to be solved, I am confident in saying that Mr. Freeman definitely has talent. The overall feel of Tribesman will be familiar to many readers of the genre, but there are notes that make it stand out. The world of Culainn and his people and of Persha and the Benouin are colorful and engaging. The ending left me a bit cold, as it was abrupt. It left me wondering if there would be a follow up, simply because I enjoyed the storyline and was interested in the characters.

I am hesitant to rate this lower than three stars. What saved it for me was Freeman’s ability to craft an interesting and unique storyline, and bolster that with good, solid characterization. Were it not for that, I would have rated this with two stars. However, I can recommend that you read this one for yourself and decide.

Three out of five stars.

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