31952643A camper travels the back roads of America, but it is not what it seems. Pursued by powerful forces: a mastermind, a maniac, and a terrorist, its crew wonders if they’ll ever reach Journey’s end.

When Eloise Corwin – a longtime patient in her desert hometown’s infirmary – finds a wounded young traveler sharing her sick room; she insists that he tell her about his adventures. The young man, Orson Gregory, tells her how he found and stole a glowing gemstone, hidden for decades beneath the government-built factory beside his family farm. He tells her how he’s been chased ever since – by mercenaries, by terrorists, and by other, stranger enemies. He tells her how he threw in his lot with a real adventurer, a mythology professor, an innkeeper, and a duo of hired guns on a cross-country journey to clear his name and return home – something he’s currently failing to do. To reach safety, the motley travelers will first have to deal with each other, evade the foes that follow their every move, and tangle with other forces both strange and powerful, their fellow travelers on the Wayfarers Highway.

*I received a free copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review*

I was very intrigued to read this book because the blurb drew me in straight away with the mention of characters- a mythology prof, innkeeper, hired guns, etc… The hidden, glowing gemstone Opal is a straight giveaway we are dealing with some fantasy elements here, as well and being chased by terrorists and strange enemies would pick anyone’s fancy.

Orson, our MC is really just a regular guy (there’s nothing wrong using a regular guy for a change in a fantasy story) and his personal development throughout is truly solid from Wimp 2 Warrior (MMA, please don’t sue me for using your slogan!). He lives in Alabaster and locally he’s in the bad books (but I can’t even remember why, there was so much going on I forgot the beginning of the story!). His farm, including a factory, is bought off by rich Cyprus and Orson ends up snooping around in the factory close to midnight. He shouldn’t be there of course, and when the security appears, Orson finds himself in the tunnels beneath the building where he discovers the Opal, a powerful gemstone which in the wrong hands can do a lot of damage.

By having the Opal, Orson ends up on a months’ long adventure with many associates. He finds out there is more to life than what is visible to the eye. Some magic perhaps? When he meets Ophion who helps Orson escape a group called The Hierarchia, Orson realizes there is much more to the Opal, and the Blitzkrieg agenda is more powerful and reaches further than just some local rich guy business plans.

I’ll be quite direct and backward with this review because I am going to reveal my rating early on- 2** meaning it was an OK read for me.

So, what’s my problem with the book? Well, it didn’t truly pull me in until the very end with the action. At times I felt the writing was a bit mechanical, or clunky, i.e ‘he then did this. They went there.’- kind of thing. In the first half of the book there was some repetition of facts (especially the very beginning when Orson goes to the factory, it felt a bit drawn out). Then in parts I found myself congratulating the author for subtle ‘show, not tell’ aspects around the characters. For example, through the characters’ dialogue I was able to easily sense the mood- paranoia, flight or fight, fear, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters which tells me this is a plot-driven book. Now, I know readers fall into two groups, so if you love a plot driven story- go for it. You’ll get plenty of action, plenty of characters and plenty of adventure with a touch of conspiracy and otherworldly!

I would have loved to have seen the author fully use the fantasy elements to their full potential in the book. Sirona being a fire elemental was all well and good, but what about all the other elementals- air, water, earth? Where did the powers come from, what could elementals do with their abilities? Yes, the Opal’s power was the centrepoint of the good versus evil but the fantasy aspect fell to background as the government and overly ambitions villains (yes, there are more than one, it’s complicated) play their own games in which our good guys are pawns for.

From my personal POV, I feel maybe there was too many chesspieces in the game. Long, complicated plots come with a risk of losing reader’s attention as happened to me and that’s my own fault, you may totally disagree with me. Other reviewers on Goodreads were able to enjoy this book to high ratings so I suggest you try it out to make up your own mind.Β  All that being said I totally acknowledge that every character, environment, adventure and scene from this book was used well in the story.

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