O is for Orullian

Peter Orullian started his epic trilogy, Vault of Heaven, with The Unremembered. I actually had a hard time getting into this book. It’s the first book I can remember where I wish I had skipped the prologue. It felt unnecessary and labored, and by the time I felt some bit of care over what was happening, it was over and I had to work to be engaged by the actual characters. That actually took me a few chapters — and then he almost lost me again by switching to a different scene. As a writer, I understand that the switch was supposed to build tension: Chapter three ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, which is one level of tension, and then chapter four introduced a different storyline and unspoken darkness, which is another level of tension, especially when left unexplained. As a reader, I found it just didn’t work that well for me this time.

(Side note: as I’m working on epic fantasy that uses multiple viewpoints, I’m well aware of the danger of making such pronouncements. Anyone who reads my fiction and feels the same way about not switching too soon — I apologize in advance.)

I persevered, though, and I’m glad I did. It’s a good book (and hefty, another 600+ page read), and I imagine the entire trilogy will be excellent when it’s finished. (Although I do hope that for subsequent volumes, I don’t feel like the author loses my interest quite so readily.)

Truthfully, one of the reasons I sought this book out is because it was also recommended to me as a book that uses music as magic. This isn’t terribly surprising, as Orullian is a musician as well as an author. Unlike Cooper’s Song, which is heard with the mind and soul and not voiced, in Aeshau Vaal, song itself can carry the magic — for good or ill.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, a few short stories set in this world have been published on Tor.com — Sacrifice of the First Sheason, The Great Defense of Layosah, and The Battle of the Round.

This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Check out some of the other bloggers participating or follow my blog by e-mail if you like what you’ve read.

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  1. This has been on my to-read list forever. If I do get to it, I’ll try to persevere.

    I find it easy to lose interest when books switch storylines too often or at the wrong time. But it works when done well, and I can’t come up with a general rule defining “too often,” “wrong time,” or “done well”.

    My current project switches every chapter–I think that without long delays in getting back to each character it will work.

    • Every chapter can work really well, especially if you only have two or three viewpoints, and people know what to expect. I think you’re right about their not being a general rule — and it’s quite possible that if I’d read this at another time, I wouldn’t even have noticed.

      Let me know what you think when you read it.

  2. I sometimes switch storylines as well and have found some people love it and some complain. I think, in the end, you have to write whatever you’re going to write.

    • I’m in danger of quoting song lyrics to restate what you said, and as the music industry is notorious about copyright, permissions, and fees, I’ll just go with an oblique reference to pleasing yourself instead of others. 😉

      It’s hard to do well, and nothing’s going to make everyone happy, it’s true. Do you have any guidelines for when you change storylines?

  3. It can be hard to get an overall sense of the story when there are a lot of scene changes. Personally I like them, but they take a lot of care.

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective

    • They do. I find it easier to get into a story when it starts with a small cast that expands, with the point-of-view then splitting, rather than jumping hither and yon (especially if the scenes don’t even name the characters, as some of his don’t). But I think that’s definitely a personal preference.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  4. Ohhh …. multiple POV’s … when done well, are wonderful, but when not … my brain goes cross-eyed.
    My novel has a whole bunch of’em. (hopefully the wonderful ones) I had to be so careful to walk that fine line between making sure the reader knew who was ‘speaking’ and not having a little tag that said, ‘We are now inside Malawatea’s head. Please fasten your seatbelts’, at the beginning of each change of POV

    • It is a fine line to walk, and I imagine that the line moves, depending on the reader’s mood and attention span. Some authors do label each chapter or scene with the person — which at least makes it clear. It’s trickier to do it without the labels.

      And I like “Please fasten your seatbelts”! 😀

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