Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review: The Explorers of Serdame (The Alfred Arnold Saga Book 2) by Phoenix Williams

The Explorers of Serdame (The Alfred Arnold Saga Book 2)

33015521Alfred Arnold’s Great Adventure of No Direction Whatsoever has begun! With the company of Sir Procrastination and the curious Lavandra, Serdame’s first explorer sets out from Villedge to find the capital of the land. 

Explore some of the most fascinating landmarks in the world, such as rolling sand dunes, vibrant oases, and a mountain made entirely of wood. Face dangerous waterfalls, poisonous insects, and a total loss of direction. Follow the three adventures as they cross countless strange inhabitants in their journey north, from suicidal fish to the most peaceful man in Serdame. 

Join our hero and his companions in the second installment of Phoenix Williams’ Alfred Arnold Saga!

My Take:
Alfred Arnold seems to have overcome much of his debilitating OCD and panic attacks in this sequel, as his journey continues, now with the companions of Sir Procrastination and the resourceful Lavandra from the village of Villedge. They are off to find the Capitol, confident in their combined abilities. A ship awaits them on the coast to carry them across the ocean.

The Explorers of Serdame travel through amazing regions of Serdame: massive waterfalls, raging rivers, an endless ocean, an expansive moving desert, and a mountain constructed entirely of wood. Along the way they meet some of the oddest fauna of the land, like suicidal fish, a deadly beetle, and a fish that plays fetch with a stick.

After many delays and the death of someone close, their journey seems destined to leap off the tracks, and it seems there is no way they can reach the coast before their ship to the Capitol departs.

Drug Content:
PG - There is a scene where brigands ransack an important man's home and raid his stash of wine. An innkeeper witholds beer from barbarians, driving them to a frenzy.

PG-13 - The brigands try to murder Alfred Arnold. There's a dark threat of serious violence to one of the villains.

G - squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
G - Squeaky clean.   

Christian content:
Nada. The main character seems to have a moral code but it is driven by pacifism and benevolence, not from any faith he exudes. Camaraderie, self sacrifice, and teamwork play an important role in this work, and the characters care deeply for one another, defending each other no matter the cost.

Final analysis:
Reading a book where the main character suffers from debilitating panic attacks makes for an interesting twist. The idea of him being in a world of his own creation has been done, and well, but it's not a tired theme, and makes for interesting stakes. I constantly wonder, as he is embedded in a map in a house that is on fire, whether the world will start to burn, or if he has truly been transported to another dimension, or just suffering a fainting spell while his home burns down around him (If you don't know what I'm talking about, this is covered in the first few chapters of the first book).

Unfortunately, none of these threads are touched in this sequel, and although Alfred's amnesia is showing some signs of abating, he remembers nothing of critical import.

Alfred Arnold's character has shown significant growth and he has become more real, more likable, but the best character development in this book seems to be granted to Lavandra. As a possible later love interest, she has dimension and promise. Sir Procrastination seems, if anything, more one dimensional than he was in the first novel, as he falls almost to the level of wooden comic relief. Still, he shows a bit of resourcefulness and nerve, especially when fighting the Brigands.

As before, the world building here is excellent, though obviously fantastical and unrealistic, and the character development is relatively engrossing. The plot didn't really hook me; while the characters seem bent on a visit to the Capitol, I did not get a good reason why. With that and some pacing issues, I found it difficult to stay invested in the story. Four Stars.

About the Author:
Phoenix  WardPhoenix Ward is the author of thought-provoking science fiction and dark thrillers. The inventive mind behind A Guardian Angel, Oneironaut, the Alfred Arnold Saga, and the Installed Intelligence series, Phoenix captures the bizarre eccentricities that make reading unique.

When he’s not writing foreboding tales of futures-to-be, Phoenix is an avid gamer. In fact, he is the owner and primary contributor for a video game blog called Ham Goblin Gaming.

Phoenix wears pajama pants under his jeans in the winter and has a ham tattooed on his chest. He draws inspiration from such science fiction legends as Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. He currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

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