The Will and the Forest- Review

Title: The Will and the Forest, Episode 1: Exodus
Author: Demar
Publisher: Self-pubbed
Publication Date: February 10, 2014
Source: Author

It is a world of knights, pirates, warlords, and squires. But for eleven year-old Herbert, such heroes exist only in children’s books and in toys carved from pinecones. Until one spring morning that is, when Herbert is greeted by a mysterious creature with a cryptic message.

What’s odd is that the owlbat delivering the note shouldn’t rightly exist, not since the Ruby Wars anyways. And the letters on the note are written in ancient Erdel—the lost language of the ancients who vanished over six thousand years ago. Stranger still? The ink is fresh, still damp from the night previous.

As Herbert and the mysteriously old bookkeeper Ms. Opal unravel secrets of the past, Herbert’s first great adventure begins and takes him where he is wary to go—into the pine forest, where an old sage with strange abilities dwells. And with rumors of a warlord marching from the north, and the arrival of merchant pirates at the village Harbor, Herbert’s simple life is about to change forever.

Fortunately Herbert is not without companions, and has good friends close around him: Donaldson, the acrobatic orphan living on the rooftops, and Ashlund, the Mayor’s daughter with a secret past who is ready to run away and leave the village forever.

Join Herbert’s quest in this new fantasy book series as he learns firsthand what it takes to be a true hero, and begins to discover in himself perhaps the greatest mystery of all—The Will— a powerful force in the universe, which has long been forgotten by mankind. While the age of willers is past, and the earth lay in a slumber, the time for awakening is arrived.
Whether you’re a mother looking for great books for boys, or a fantasy fan who loves a good-hearted adventure, The Will Sagas are sure to please and delight. It’s a new fantasy book series for all ages full of action, excitement, humor and love.

The Will and the Forest was one action packed book. It took until about halfway through for the ball to get rolling, but once it did it never stopped. One of the things that I love about reading is the chance to read about adventures and this was definitely one of those books.
What I Liked:
The writing. Demar has a very strong writing ability. His sentences were tight and put together. Everything made sense and there wasn’t anything in there that didn’t make sense. The diction was strong and matched perfectly to the world that was created. The way that the characters spoke was unique to each character and accurate. It’s easy for an author to say that a character has an accent or speaks a certain way, but it’s a little harder to actually show how they are speaking and enable the reader to image exactly how they sound just by the words on the pages.
The world building. I felt like this was strong world building. The myths, the locations, the histories all of them felt natural in the story. What I loved even more about this was there was no info dumping. Everything the reader needed to know came in a natural course and wasn’t shoved down the readers throats every other paragraph.
It kind of reminded me of Lord of the Rings. No there isn’t a ring that needs to be destroyed with only one mountain that can do it. But there is a Gandolf character. And a Frodo. And I can argue that there is even an Aragorn. I’ll let you guys figure out how is who. It’s not fun if I give it away for you. But I feel like Tolkien is one of the best examples of a fantasy adventure epic and if I can pick out elements of that in a book then it’s on the right path.
There is more going on than there appears. There is A LOT going on in this book. There are several different stories all going on at once. It’s going to be interesting to see how it continues on.

What I Didn’t Like:
There is more going on than there appears. While on one hand this was something I liked. Plot wise. Character wise it was a little much for me. There were so many characters we kept flipping through all at once that it got confusing at times. I almost had to do what Stephen King does and write out a character list to keep everyone straight. I think the story could have been a little tighter without flipping through so many different characters.
I couldn’t tell what age group this is for. Age group is really important for marketing of the book. The book was pitched to me as Young Adult Fantasy…and it wasn’t. Because of the way the characters were introduced to me, Herbert because the main character. The problem with that is he is only 11. It can’t be a young adult book with an 11 year old as the main character. This is part of the reason why it took me so long to become invested in the book. As I already said it took until about half way through for things to really get rolling. A big part of that was because I couldn’t connect to Herbert. That being said, this book also isn’t really a middle grade either. While Herbert’s story is a perfect example of middle grade the inclusion of the older characters takes it out of that. There are also a few instances where words I wouldn’t have deemed appropriate for children were used. In the story these words seemed natural coming from the mouths or minds of the children, but I am pretty sure a large majority of parents would frown at their children using the word “pisser” in normal conversations.
*EDIT* I have been informed the final copy of the book has replaced these words. *EDIT*
So my biggest complaint about this book is that the age group is really unclear. You have the story of the three boys making it middle grade. Then the story of the pirates and Ashlund making it young adult. It’s meshing together two things that don’t naturally go together in my opinion. They may be just a few years apart from each other, but younger kids and teenagers have completely different growing lessons. Herbert’s really focuses on getting beat up. Ashlund’s focuses on finding her own place in the world and mapping out independence. Separate those stories would be wonderful. Shoved together it’s just a little hard to read.
Did I Like It? There are gorgeous pictures throughout the book. On one hand I really enjoyed this book and I think it enhanced the story. On the other hand it made it really kiddish. So…this part I am torn on.

Over all I really did enjoy this book. I would definitely recommend it to other people to read and discover for themselves. I’ll be looking forward to reading the second.