Book Review: Farseeker

Farseeker, by Joanna Starr, presented a story I’ve rarely read elsewhere. Filled with new age concepts, classic fantasy tropes, and more—the story was worth the read. Let’s dig into this review, shall we?

Premise

Farseeker is a science fantasy, with a blend of sci-fi and classic fantasy tropes. The story begins as a straight fantasy, but quickly transitions. Everything from dragons, unicorns, to extraterrestrials are present. There are a few Doctor-Who like themes such as time travel. With so much going on, the plethora of themes is a double-edged sword for the story.

Length

The book is long, at around 500 pages. Scenes organized chapters well, but sometimes chapters carried on longer than they should have. There were also some—in my opinion—unnecessary scenes that didn’t add much to the plot or characters.

Characters

Thaya, the main protagonist, is the sole PoV of the story. Her scenes were good, but lacked sufficient depth for me to connect with her character. Granted, a few scenes were excellent and marked the zenith of her arc. Overall, she was a balanced heroine with cool abilities, high amounts of action, and mediocre exposition.

The side characters were interesting, but some vanished from the plot, only to reappear much later. This made it difficult for the protagonist to bond or relate to them. Other characters like talking unicorns were amusing to read about.

Magic System

A soft magic system rules the universe of Farseeker, magic of a whimsical and unexplained nature. Thaya gains new abilities as she progresses through the story, some abilities with humorous outcomes like nauseous spatial travel. There’s also technology, with adds a nice twist to the whole fantasy-magic trope.

Conflict

The tension flowed great between chapters. The monsters and enemies were mysterious, unpredictable, and frightening. This made for a dynamic story and challenged Thaya from start to finish. There was some romance introduced late in the story, but it was underdeveloped and not particularly interesting. This may be a device for book two, however.

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The Good

Farseeker has an excellent blend of fantasy and sci-fi themes. The high tension kept me turning the pages, and offered plenty of excitement. Magic battles were flashy, satisfying, and helped with the story’s immense worldbuilding.

The Bad

Thaya came off as an protagonist who could have been excellent, but fell short. The lack of internal exposition and emotional depth—while not bad—felt mediocre. Side characters were there, and then they weren’t. This added a chaotic and disorganized feel to the plot flow.

The Ugly

There was a rape scene I didn’t care for, although it added an interesting detail to Thaya’s arc. Much of prose was somewhat unpolished and could have been condensed better.

Despite its excellent worldbuilding and level of tension, the chaotic plot felt rattling and confusing at times. The characters could have been fleshed out better, the prose polished, and unnecessary scenes deleted. Still, the story had some fascinating information in it and unique blend of themes, which bumps my overall rating to four stars. The new age concepts presented in the plot made me smile, and I love it when I find these types of Easter eggs within fiction.

For the curious and patient lovers of science fantasy—or new age fans like myself—, this is a perfect read. For those who prefer simple plots and deeper characters, you may want to look elsewhere.


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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Writing Update: 02/03/21

The Pleasure of World-building…

I must confess, the pleasure of world-building is indescribable. Creating entire universes from thin air brings joy to my soul. Purpose. It drives me into the moment, grounds me to my body, mind, and soul.

I’ve begun another revision pass to book 1, Blade of Dragons, after the updates to some of the character arcs. The manuscript is, otherwise, polished for a beta manuscript and should be ready for publication soon.

Polishing the Series Now or Later?

That said, I may hold off on releasing Blade of Dragons until later. Using a strategy that Michael J Sullivan recommends, I would polish the rest of the series first, allowing world-building and plot interconnection to weave the stories together. Due to Ethereal Seals’ heavy world-building, my intuition wants me to lean this way.

When finished, this will enable me to use book 1 as a promo story, setting up sales for the rest of the series. The downside is it will take considerable time before any of the stories get released. For me, that isn’t a huge issue, for I view writing as a therapeutic and spiritual exercise.

The Merits of Creative Writing

After 2020—the horrendous year everyone wants to forget—I’ve come to value my writing more on its merits. It grounded me amidst the chaos, kept me occupied during lockdown, and gave me inspiration. Excitement for life. Looking back on 2020, I see only achievements, what I have accomplished.

Work on Book 2: Heart of Dragons

Heart of Dragons has been surprising considering the changes in the character arcs. Fortunately, the story-character progression is a lot more intuitive and organized than it was in book 1. In Blade of Dragons, I had little choice, as certain scenes had to play out for the reader.

Book 2 feels more wholesome, and its progress is strengthening book 1. Heart of Dragons expands on the world-building expressed in Blade of Dragons, and this created a massive science fantasy universe, one that had me wondering if I’m in over my head. That’s one of the joys of world-building, ha?

Regardless, the alpha manuscript from years prior is reading better. I have no doubt this will be a series with a dedicated niche of readers when I’m finished.

Book 3: Soul of Dragons

The rough manuscript from years ago hasn’t aged well, and I have yet to examine it in detail. Still, it has a treasure trove of excellent ideas I intend to draw from. With changes to the first two books, Soul of Dragons will take some drastic turns. I am excited to work on it once the first two books are set.

Book 4: Empress of Dragons

Book 4 is still in an abstract state, but I have a loose idea on how to outline it. It’s possible I will expand on it and build a fifth book: War of Dragons, if the Divine Spirit guides me that way. I do have some ideas in mind, new continents and planets for the protagonists to explore, plot twists, and so forth. These will tie into the story introduced in book 1.

Supplementary Stories

The Ethereal Seals universe is vast, and I may produce series that take place in different parts of the cosmos. These books will make references to Pepper Slyhart’s story on Atlas, among other things. In the meanwhile, there’s Tempest of the Dragon and Muffins and Magic, two standalone stories that came to me during the last few NaNoWriMO contests.

I’ll get to them eventually!

Maybe.

Tempest of the Dragon

Kyosenko, a samurai outcast in Japan, discovers his destiny with a girl named Mina, a cursed Black Serpent in disguise. He vows to protect the ensorcelled girl with his life, venturing with her across ancient Japan—to a place where Mina may find salvation. But there is another threat, an organization that wishes to capture Mina and abuse her arcane powers.

The Kaji Clan.

Set in ancient Japan (or China, if I decide to change it) the story and world-building is a lot simpler than Ethereal Seals. It was a breeze to write during NaNo and I enjoy the characters and story I’ve come up with for it.

Muffins and Magic

This story is a contemporary fantasy with humor intermixed. I don’t have a logline or description of it yet, but the protagonist is a baker with magical powers. He defeats challenges and enemies with his delicious cooking skills, winning their hearts. Unlike Blade of Dragons or Tempest of the Dragon, most of the conflict in Muffins and Magic is half-hearted, geared towards a casual audience.

Right now, I’m making good progress on my newest book, Stormbringer, by Isbabel Cooper. It has enjoyable world-building, characters, and plot. Even some steamy romance. I plan to do a book review when I finish, and read more of her books, as I need further exposure to the fantasy-romance niche. Unfortunately, I can’t write any fantasy stories without some romance subplot. It’s a curse.

In other news, I’ve been going to the gym and meditating more. I may pick up sketching again at some point too.

Blogging Update

From this point, I want to shift the purpose of my blog a little. I’m aiming for more of an intuitive and creative experience—not just for me, but for you too, dear reader. I’ve also considered vlogging and podcasting, but not anytime soon, if I do decide to do them.

Instead of forcing the muse to write mechanically, I’ll allow it to work through me. No one should pretend to be something they’re not, nor conform to a system. As cosmic witness, this will undoubtedly produce blogging content of a more beautiful, if esoteric, nature. That said, I cannot predict when the muse will emerge, or for how long. I ask for your patience, dear reader. Thank you.


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, thanks for reading.
—Ed R. White

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Blade of Dragons Update: Blurbs, Taglines, Longlines, and more!

Hello, my readers, I’m back with another update on my manuscript, Blade of Dragons! It’s been a stressful month (for all of us I would imagine), but my manuscript is approaching the end of the beta stage—at least I hope.

Anyway, I have some items to share that involve general manuscript preparation. Most any author follows this formula.

There are several tools an author uses to promote or describe a book. These include: blurbs, taglines, loglines, cover descriptions, and synopses.

Blurb

A blurb is a brief statement designed to promote the book. The blurb may be by the author, a reviewer, an editor, a publishing company, or anyone else. A blurb is designed to perk interest and add a silver-lining to the book’s appearance. A blurb may appear on the front or back cover.

Logline

A logline is a book compressed into a brief paragraph. It should be concise while packing a punch. The main character, antagonist, conflict, and any other relevant detail is included, giving the reader an idea of what the story is about.

Tagline

Short and witty, a tagline is a statement that doesn’t tell anything about the book. It’s more of a catchphrase or trademark to the author’s story.

Description

Book descriptions are like an expanded logline, often around 150 to 200 words. Besides the tagline and blurb, a description is meant to lure the reader into opening the book. First sentences are crucial in descriptions, as this will convince the reader to read the story.

Synopsis

Designed more for the eyes of an agent, a synopsis is a larger description, varying anywhere from 500 to 2000 words. Short and long synopses are both viable, but modern agents err more on the shorter side. A synopsis should mention the protagonist’s arc, showing the agent that you’ve built a complete, alluring story.

I’ll give examples of the manuscript tools I mentioned above using ones from my book. Mind, these aren’t official, nor are they polished. Still, they should give you an idea of each category.

Blurb

Exciting, hard-hitting, and exotic. Blade of Dragons is an action-packed story filled with vivid storytelling and likable characters that will hold you spellbound from start to finish.


This blurb reads promotional, coming from a reader who enjoys the story.

Logline

Pepper, a cursed farmer’s daughter, inherits her father’s sword, ancient technology that can save her planet from a dark goddess. But her draconic blood seeks to undo all she holds dear.


I kept the logline short. In a more compressed form, it almost gives a stronger punch, I noticed.

Tagline

The legend of a farmer’s daughter, cursed with the blood of dragons.


Perhaps not the shortest or wittiest tagline. Still, this one stuck with me, and it’s consistent with the other items mentioned above. It also invokes a good degree of intrigue.

Description

Whimsical Magic. Arcane Technology. Romance.

Can Pepper Slyhart use her father’s sword, a weapon with unfathomable power, to save her planet? With her childhood friend, Tarie, Pepper embarks on a dire quest. She enters a war against a dark goddess that has scoured grasslands, scorched forests, and devoured great cities.

Pepper unravels the terrible price of her sentient blade, a connection to the Ethereal Seals Gate, which powers technology and sustains her planet. 

But her half-dragon heritage seeks to betray Pepper, and Tarie may be the only one who can save her.

Are they able to fight a war on both fronts, or will the Shadow claim their souls?


Notice that I include certain keywords in the blurb. The reader will know that there are: swords, a dire quest, a dark goddess, a heroine, technology, and a dragon-like race. This suggests a science fantasy genre, the type of message I hope to convey. The beginning ‘trio-word’ technique I used is a popular strategy to create rhythm and intrigue.

Synopsis

Uhh, no, I won’t post that here—it’s way too long. Regardless, I do have a short (two page) and long (seven page) synopsis written if I need it. My synopses break down the story piecemeal, proving I have a solid and complete book. Any agent or publisher who reads it would get a good idea of what the story is about: the characters, conflict, the driving force of the story, and so forth.

Additional Items to Consider

My cover art (my own work) you can view at the top of the page. It’s still unofficial, and I may reach out to a professional to spruce it up. I included a map and glossary with my manuscript to provide additional reference material for readers.

When you design your own world, including a glossary or world map can help add depth to the story. I highly recommend it, especially for epic fantasy worlds.

Publication

I am unsure if I will go traditional or epub, but I am leaning more towards the latter. I may still find an agent to help me represent my book, as I am underread when it comes to marketing.

With that said, I hope you found this post to be informative and enjoyable. Good luck with whatever creative projects you might be working on.

Thank you for reading and stay safe out there.


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