Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Legend of the Firefish -- Day 1

In this opening novel of the Trophy Chase Trilogy, George Bryan Polivka introduces the readers to the lands of Nearing Vast and more importantly, to The Vast Sea where most of the action takes place. Packer Throme has come home to his little fishing village of Hangman's Cliffs a swordsman rather than the preacher he had set out to become. And instead of proceeding to marry Panna Seline, the fiancée he'd left behind, he kisses her goodbye one more time and stows aboard the pirate ship Trophy Chase, bound on a great adventure. He's heard rumor that the captain, Scat Wilkins, is in search of the legendary firefish, and Packer has deduced from his dead father's notes where in The Vast Sea the firefish can be found. He's hoping to make a difference to the economy of Hangman's Cliffs when his assumptions prove to be real and be hailed a hero instead of a coward.

First Packer has to convince the captain that he is worth more alive than dead, making some enemies in the process. And when they find the firefish, things do not go as planned.

Pros: I found The Legend of the Firefish to entertain and inform me a lot on large sailing vessels. Here's one fun sample from page 243. Packer has just been sent up to the crow's nest to see what he can see:
The one nod to caution, a short safety rope that ringed the masthead and was then hooked to the lookout's belt, secured Packer now. The deck a hundred feet below was pitched at thirty-five degrees, which meant the crow's nest was also pitched at thirty-five degrees--and hanging nearly sixty feet out over the water. The sensation was mind-skewing. With the moonlit, whitecapped waves actually closer to him than the lamp-lit deck, Packer felt cut off from the reality of the Chase and her crew. He clung to his perch under the ruffle and snap of the skull and bones as though outcast, as though his first duty were to the sea and the wind, and whatever demands they might make.

Pirate novels, movies--everything--are really in right now, so George Bryan Polivka's novel meets this hunger straight on.

Harvest House Publishers went beyond the call of ordinary to give The Legend of the Firefish a special look. Not only is the cover very fitting for a pirate novel, but the spine is very eye-catching. Each interior page is decorated with little helms and curlicues, and each chapter heading has a black and white rendition of the ship shown on the cover. It has a charming old world feel to it. And speaking of the publisher, they are sponsoring a Talk Like a Pirate Contest--Reach out to a Pirate and Win!

Cons: I had a hard time getting into the novel, to be honest. The biggest issue for me was point of view. We had everybody's point of view, right down to the firefish. Whoever happened to be in a scene, we knew what they were thinking. Back and forth like a ping-pong ball or maybe a soccer match, because there were more than two players in many of them.

I find omniscient point of view not only disorienting but distancing. I could tell that the story belonged to Packer, and that the main subplot belonged to Panna, the girl he'd left behind. But because the point of view ricocheted between them and random other people, I never felt like I really got under their skin and found what made them tick. Although the story moved along at a smart clip and had a solid plotline, I always felt a step removed from the action.

Not everyone feels as I do about it. Polivka's editor, Nick Harrison said this in an interview with Becky Miller:
Bryan’s ability to handle the point of view shifts necessary to pull off this feat is awesome—and unique. Not many authors handle point of view as well as Bryan does. I consider Bryan’s use of point of view a huge asset to the book—even though I know that all the writing books warn against such shifts. I think they do this because few authors can handle those shifts well. Bryan is a master at it, in my opinion.

Check in tomorrow to see what Bryan has to say about ominiscient!

Meanwhile, lots of other bloggers are talking up The Legend of the Firefish. Check them out!
Trish Anderson, Brandon Barr, Wayne Thomas Batson, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Amy Browning, Jackie Castle, Karri Compton, Frank Creed, Lisa Cromwell, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis, D. G. D. Davidson, Merrie Destefano, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Linda Gilmore, Beth Goddard, Marcus Goodyear, Russell Griffith, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Christopher Hopper, Jason Joyner, Kait, Karen, Dawn King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Terri Main, Rachel Marks, Karen McSpadden, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, John Ottinger, Robin Parrish, Lyn Perry, Deena Peterson, Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Chawna Schroeder, Mirtika Schultz, James Somers, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Jason Waguespac, Daniel I. Weaver, Janey DeMeo


Merrie Destefano said...

Great post! I agree with your assessment: Pirate stories are IN. I hope Pilovka's book gets great reviews and that readers love it.

chrisd said...

The POV issue. Hmmm...

I'll stop by to read that. It's something I stuggle with myself (as a "writer").

I'm surprised to hear an editor who doesn't have a problem with omnicient. I personally don't either; but many, MANY people don't like it. And I understand why.

I'll be back!

Becky said...

I'll be interested to see how many people mention POV, either pro or con. I actually had forgotten it was written in omniscient until I read a few other posts today.

I generally find too many POV characters (when an author is writing in 3rd limited) definitely distances me from the main character. One book I read had 13, I think it was.

The other thing to note, I've read some books that have a clear, limited 3rd, and I still don't feel connected to the character.

I agree I didn't feel as connected with Packer or Panna as I would wish, but closer than in probably 80 percent of the books I'm reading these days.


Jackie Castle said...

As I've been reading Bryan's book, the omnicient POV at first threw me. But I think it's because it's been so long since I've read it in a contemporary novel. My first reaction was to point my finger and say, "Hey, he did it why can't I?"

I love omincient. As long as the writer keeps striaght who's VP we are in. Bryan's done that. I never wonder, even when we are in the fish's vp.

I say well done! And I'm glad to took the risk to do it.
Jackie Castle