Book Review: Hunt for Valamon by DK Mok
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Spence City (April 7, 2015)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hunt for Valamon was recommended to me by a friend, and it is the first novel I’ve ever read from Australian fantasy author D.K. Mok. I didn’t know much about the book when I picked it up so I had no idea what to expect, but I have to say, I came out of it feeling quite impressed.
Valamon is the oldest son of King Delmar but was never meant to inherit the throne, due to the fact most people consider him to be a simpleton. However, that doesn’t stop all hell from breaking loose when the prince is kidnapped, sparking a frantic search for a noble champion to help rescue him. They end up with Elhan, a spirited and strong young woman whose skills are unparalleled when it comes to the deadly arts of combat. Unfortunately, she’s also cursed and very likely insane.
As if that weren’t enough, accompanying Elhan on the quest to find Valamon is Seris, a humble priest and healer with absolutely no fighting or survival skills whatsoever. Oh, and he’s also hindered by a ton of ridiculous rules imposed on him by his religious order. Despite being polar opposites, Seris and Elhan must nonetheless learn to cooperate as they set out together for the wilderness, embarking on a long and unpredictable journey to bring home a lost prince and prevent a bloody war.
It’s probably safe to categorize this novel as epic fantasy, but I was also pleasantly surprised to discover how different it felt from most books in that subgenre. The language is perhaps the most obvious thing that sets it apart. At times the narrative will feel decidedly modern, and characters will frequently use phrases and terms common in our everyday parlance. It is completely at odds with the fantasy setting, but there’s also no doubt at all this was done intentionally. The stylistic choice might not be for everyone, that’s true; but it does mean a lot of opportunities for humor, more so than you would find in other high fantasy works. So if you like a funny side to your epic fantasy, this just might be the book for you.
The characters are another factor which makes this book so enjoyable. Seris and Elhan are the main focus of the story, of course. Friendship eventually blossoms between them, but their differences in the beginning are marked by clashes and thorny interactions, giving rise to no small number of amusing scenes. But Valamon, the kidnapped prince and objective of their quest, is also a point-of-view character whose perspective adds much to the tale. It is interesting to me that Valamon’s personality and demeanor, along with how others in the book see him, strongly suggests Asperger’s or a similar kind of autism spectrum disorder, and one of the major themes is how everyone feels he is unfit to rule when in reality, the troubled prince is actually much wiser and more perceptive than he lets on.
Other side characters include Valamon’s younger brother Falon, who is the one actually being groomed to rule, as well as Qara, the princes’ childhood playmate who grew up to become a royal confidante and protector. The so-called villains of the novel, the ones who stole Valamon away, also played a big role. The tension created by this balance in perspectives was a good way to show all sides of the conflict and make the book exciting. The story was reasonably well-paced and quite engaging.
The plot and dialogue could probably benefit from a bit of fine polishing, but otherwise I thought this was a fun read that offered quite a few surprises. Hunt for Valamon is refreshing and unique, highly recommended for fantasy readers looking for an adventurous journey. I had a lovely time with D.K. Mok’s humorous and down-to-earth style. It’s also worth mentioning that this was my first introduction Spence City Books and it is great being able to put both a new author and an independent publisher on my list to check out in the future.