Sunday, June 12, 2016

Review: The Buried Symbol by Jeffrey L. Kohanek

The Buried Symbol
by Jeffrey L. Kohanek

29910761Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to an existence below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire's ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire’s future leaders are trained.

As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.

Brock’s compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, becoming a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.

My Take:
Once Brock gets a rune, the bond between him and Tipper is one of the most controversial relationships in the book, because hardly anyone who has a rune will associate at all with an Unchosen. The bigotry against and ostracizing of the Unchosen is reminiscent of the treatment of blacks in the South.

The protagonist begins innocent but law-breaking, a bit like Aladdin, and is fairly likable throughout. The antagonist in this book is not as well-developed, and mainly seems driven by pride and revenge. There is little to like in him. Some of the supporting cast are well-developed, likable, and the combination of their talents makes for an unbeatable force, which I expect will be put seriously to the test in upcoming books. The world is reasonably well-developed and immersive. There are a few plot twists to keep you guessing, and plenty of action to keep you turning pages.

Drug Content:
PG-13 - Brock gets into several situations where he drinks himself under the table, and cannot remember the next day what went on. He does learn later on to go easy on the booze.

R - There are a few horrific scenes - one where a man's face is ripped to pieces, and his dead body is reanimated to fight, and another where a person's head is crushed in a vise. Several healing scenes occur where blood is expelled forcefully from the lungs.

PG - there is not any cussing that I recall in the book.

Adult Content:
PG-13. The main character seems to be chased by more girls than Captain Kirk. Several of their escapades result in waking up partially or fully unclothed. One of the main Inns mentioned in the book appears to be a brothel, though the book never comes out and says it. The reason this is not R is that there's no real description other than the mention that a character is naked, in multiple scenes. In one scene, the main character is aroused, and the girl with him notices the fact.

Christian content:
None at all. The main god in this book is Issal, the god of Order, and Order and Chaos are set against each other in the book, somewhat like Yin and Yang. Order is described as the life force in all living things, similar to the Jedi religion of Star Wars fame. There is little in the book that mentions prayer, but many references are made to pleasing the god Issal, and there is a temple or two. Some characters seem devout in their faith to Issal. The passages that mention the god are less offensive to this reader than the ones in The Lightning Thief, if that is helpful.

Final analysis:
The Buried Symbol is a well-written action-packed fantasy similar in some ways to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. Intrigue, hi-jinks, hidden potential, and plenty of action and some romance make for a solid offering by Kohanek. I'm looking forward to a sequel. From a Christian perspective I would only give a caveat that this book would be appropriate for older teens grounded in their faith. Five Stars.

About the Author:
Jeffrey L. Kohanek

Jeffrey L. Kohanek grew up in rural Minnesota where comic books sparked his young imagination, inspiring fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. His tastes later evolved to fantasy epics featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer's imagination.

Now residing in southern California, Jeff uses that imagination to weave tales of engaging characters caught in fantastic plots to inspire young adults and the child within us all.

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