12 March, 2010

Review: Farlander, by Col Buchanan

This year I try to read and review some of the fantasy debut novels. When I first saw the cover on the left side I knew immediately that I want to read it. An airship on he cover of a fantasy cover - I couldn't resist.
Fortunately Julie Crisp - the editor - sent me a copy of Farlander (2010) [US] [UK] , by Col Buchanan.
He is an author with an unusual past:
"Having strayed from the beaten track for most of his life, at times Col has found himself in retreat in the mountains of Mourne, homeless in Belfast, lost in a Zen monastery, and
scratching graffiti as a guest of the local constabulary."[Source]
And now he his an author of a book.Farlander got some good reviews by
Liviu, Graeme, Yagiz and N.R. Alexander. They share expectations in the next book in the Heart of the World series. Of course I read these reviews. Even I'm not sure whether that is for good or bad related to my own review. Reading other reviews always leads me to question my own style. Of course I will never pass on Bona Fide's Book Oracle. But what about the rest? With the review of Farlander I tried something different. Follow me...

My Take

is epic fantasy set in a secondary world in the truest sense of the word. It is enwraped by a gorgeous cover! Yes, for me it is gorgeous. Even I feel sated with hooded men. But in this case the cover fits perfectly to the novel. And there is a dirigible! Don't be afraid. Airships are not steam driven. The world contains more "modern" stuff like artillery, handguns and gunpowder. But these things don't dominate. The majority still use dagger, sword, lance, speer, bow and crossbow. There is a slight touch of magic.

I appreciate that the book contains a map. All important countries are placed around the Mideres Sea. Not only the name let me think of the Mediterranean Sea.... But there are also obvious traces which lead to the past of Col Buchanan. The world of Farlander is a rich one and Col Buchanan has a great talent to come alive the world and its inhabitants.
Col tells the story from POV of several main characters. I want to mention some: There is Sasheen, the Matriarch of the Holy Empire of Mann and her son Kirkus. Their religion is sanguinary.... Ash, a dark-skinned Farlander and Nico, his apprentice. Both are member of Roshun, an assassin cult. To my surprise one of the main characters is older than I am. Don't worry Ash.When I reread the book in thirteen years I will be older than you.

And now you ask yourself what the hell is the book about. You like to read blurbs? Then click here.
It is the story of a world. A story of empires and cults. A story of their members. A story of individuals embedded in religion and tradition. And finally it is a story about consequences
And all of them a perfectly interwoven. For me it is ostensibly the story of Ash and Nico and at the same time it is so much more. But their story is unthinkable without all the other story lines.
We have an empire. We have a besieged town. We have protagonists who try to fulfil their duties. Normally I don't compare books. But beside Farlander I read The Gardens of the Moon (2009, 10th anniversary edtition) [US][UK], by Steven Erikson. And I can't deny that there are similarities. However I can promise you that Farlander is far beyond to be a copy of The Gardens of the Moon.
Col Buchanan is an exceptionally gifted writer. I have been intrigued since the first page. Due to the before described similarities you think you know how the story will continue. But that is a fatal error. Col Buchanan keeps you safe on one page and on the next page everything can happen. I must admit that all my assumptions have been wrong. After a long time Farlander is the first book where I didn't know 20 pages before the end who will survive. Awesome!
There is a certain kind of end. But at the same time there are open questions and during the writing of this review some more cam up. I'm totally keen to see in which direction Col Buchanan will develop the story. There is so much potential.

For me, Farlander is definitely one of the best debuts in 2010! Exceptionally story telling, comprehensible and enjoyable characters and a story which puts assassins in a new perspective. It promises a lot for the future.

I can't wait to read the next book in the Heart of the World series. Well done Col Buchanan!

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

What is Bona Fide's Book Oracle? To keep it short. It is a palaver about the reviewed book held by ediFanoB and his alter ego Bona Fide. And I am the keeper of the minutes. Now read my minutes..

Bona: "Hey Fide. You old Bridgeburner." Fide: "I think you are talking about the wrong book." Bona: "Why? A besieged town. Sappers. A strong empire. Assassins. That means we talk about
The Gardens of the Moon." Fide: "For heaven's sake! Shut up! We will never get again a copy of a book from Julie Crisp [editor of Farlander]. The only way out for you is seppuku!" Bona: "And what will you do without me? Monologues? Or just review half a book?" Fide: "Is there any dirigible in The Gardens of the Moon?" Bona: "Are you crazy? You should know that dirigibles are part of Farlander!!" Fide: " Now you got it. What do you think about the use of gunpowder, fire arms and other "modern" stuff?" Bona: "Where? When?" Fide: "Idiot. I TALK ABOUT FARLANDER!! FARLANDER!! FARLANDER!!" Bona: "Did Julie send us three copies? I hate you because you always conceal books from me. I also wanted to read the whole Farlander trilogy!!" Fide: "I go bananas!!! Farlander is the first book in the Heart of the World series." Bona: "Yes, I read one book in the past days. And I liked the way how Col Buchanan implemented gunpowder and other stuff. But these f*cking AxXXSx [censored] are fiendish arms dealer!" Fide: "Pay attention and avoid spoilers." Bona: "I'm a human brain being and I'm full of emotions." Fide: "Stop that senseless fiddle-faddle! Tell me in five words your opinion about Farlander." Bona: "Only five words? Need to think about it. In the meantime tell me your opinion." Fide: "Um, well, ......."

"I'm the keeper of the minutes and I tell you your time is up. After five words I will censor each of you".......Silence......Silence..... "I DON'T WAIT FOREVER. Speak now or silence perennially."

Bona: "Farlander" Fide: "is" Bona: "a" Fide: "great" Bona: "debut:" Fide: "intense" Bona: "expressional" Fide: "gripping" Bona: "charming" Fide: "unexpected"

"I'm the keeper of the minutes and this time I proudly present the result of the oracle" (plus me three words):

Farlander is a great debut: intense, expressional, gripping, charming, unexpected, intelligent and promising.

More Col Buchanan

For more information about the author you can use following link: Col Buchanan's official website.

More Farlander

Read Big Boots (Prologue) and The Shield(Chapter Two) for free. View the full sized map of the Mideres.

Origin of the copy

I received a copy of the book from Julie Crisp, the editor of Farlander.


Bryce L. said...

Looks awesome, thanks for the review. If you liked 'guns' mixed with fantasy you might also enjoy John Marco's Tyrants and Kings trilogy beginning with The Jackal of Nar. It's got some magic, fire-canons, and great plot.

ediFanoB said...


thanks for the recommendation. You won't believe it but the Tyyrants and Kings trilogy is on my shelf.... unread as a lot of others books. I buy books and books and books and I hope that I someday find the time to read them :)

Bryce L. said...


Haha, me too. It drives me nuts having more books I haven't read on my shelves, but does it stop me from buying, heck no. :)

ediFanoB said...

Buying more books than reading is definitely an addiction. And there are thousands of them. Just look at Goodreads

There are people who spend their money in casinos... I BUY BOOKS :D