The Axe, The Shield, and the Triton
This novel is first in a promised series that tells of a 17th-century gleeman and his stories. The Axe, the Shield, and the Triton sees lovesick Gewis fleeing his home in the Dark Ages to face adventure, war, insurrection, and tribal conflict.
For the most part this novel is beautifully written, descriptive and emotionally engaging. Author James Hockey has used a multilayered narrative that explores two settings—17th and 5th centuries—to interesting effect. The novel is clearly well-researched, and Hockey effectively communicates the grim reality of life in olden times. Occasionally readers may feel irritated by the structure of the narrative; the 17th-century storyteller interludes can feel like an interruption to the engrossing tale of Gewis and Creoda, but this is a minor criticism of an otherwise compelling and well-told tale. If reprinting, the author should consider a professional proofread to correct distracting errors such as hyphens used as en dashes, ellipses with varying numbers of points, and apostrophes and speech marks the wrong way round. He might also consider specifying cream paper, which is a publishing convention for novels (white is too harsh on the reading eye and should be reserved for non-fiction and academic work). But otherwise this is one of the better self-published novels seen this year.