Flame Tide / Svelt – Chris Whyatt

*I received free copies of these books, with thanks to the author.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: In the battle against end times … A test of faith …

An ancient script of forgotten languages proves to be a work of prophetic warnings. Passed down through generations the texts were partly deciphered by Maer- a farmer and the rightful heir – in 5BC. Not only did it foretell of the coming of a star- and the Son of God, it held a strange double-meaning which heralded another coming of equal significance … far into the future. The order is continued to protect and preserve the second prophecy.

To the present day … Rachael Balsano owns a bookstore in the Austrian Alps, blissfully happy in her vocation … until a strange book is returned.

Ralph Balsano is a leading scientist at The European Environment Agency … coincidence?

A foreign stranger, David, must convince the modern world- science itself – not only to listen to his story, but to act upon it.

Flame Tide … Cure? … or Curse?

Flame Tide is a short apocalyptic novella that melds religious endtime prophecy with modern environmental disaster to issue a stark warning.

The story begins with the well-known story of shepherds, a star and the birth of a baby king, but told from a different perspective than usual, then jumps to current times, where Rachael Balsano finds a mysterious old book and is accosted by a persuasive stranger.

I got a little confused as to the reason behind the point of Rachael’s role at a certain point – which I can’t reveal without spoiling the story! – and I wasn’t particularly convinced by the wolf theory propounded, but both these issues were justified in terms of how they moved the overall plot forward and contributed towards the ending.

I loved the whole idea behind this story and it worked really well as a quick read with a few surprises – like a Dan Brown book but much easier to read!

“They are saying that the starlight vanished, very early this morning, and … and … that a baby king was born.”
“I want you to go into the fields—”
“But, Father, they have plenty of food and water.”
“I want you to go into the fields and look for anything unusual.”
“Yes. Something that wasn’t there yesterday maybe …?”
“Okay, Father.”
Zeev gave his father a puzzled look and headed to the fields.

– Chris Whyatt, Flame Tide

Blurb: Landos. A vibrant, multispecies metropolis inhabited by a kaleidoscope of characters. Dwarves and trolls usually maintained a respectful distance, but when a clandestine union produces a miraculous outcome, Landos is divided and the rulers act swiftlyand harshly. That was then. And now, will the committee ever stop squabbling and attend to the needs of the city? Will the good(ish) citizens of Landos ever realise that their true leader is an imbecile? Will the brew-swigging patrons of trendy troll bar, The Hard Rock Cave, ever hold an intelligent conversation? Unlikely. Even a somewhat despondent evolution gave up (and that was before the beer was introduced). Svelt loved to venture into the city when he wasnt working on the farmusually without any incidentbut this time would be very different. A murdered wizard, a beautiful elf, a strange map. In addition to fighting against time, Svelt must also escape the clutches of a deadly messenger, follow the directions of a mischievous observer, and even avoid the surprisingly short, incompetent arm of the law in his reluctant pursuit of the mysterious artefact.

Svelt is a very different novella, by the same author as Flame Tide, focusing on the comic fantasy genre popularised by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Indeed, the Pratchettian influence is easily identifiable here, in everything from the mash-up of mundane and magical, to the consistently humorous tone of the tale. However, Chris Whyatt has created his own original characters with which to populate his fictional city of troll bars, curry houses and sardonic, world-weary police officers.

Whyatt also adds a different layer of his own humour, twisting the Roundworld words slightly to give us a Pry-Minister; vine bars (which also means swapping the roles of grapes and olives in other ways); the bun setting to make room for the loonlight, and so on.

The main plot of the story is Svelt (half-dwarf, half-troll) discovering a secret map and trying to solve its mysteries before other nefarious figures manage to get their hands on it, or him. This is actually secondary though, as the real heart of the story is Svelt’s fish-out-of-water tour of the city, and his relationships with the other characters he meets along the way.

The climax of the story was a bit of a shock, but left enough of the threads trailing to lead on to a sequel, or even a longer-running series. I would love to see more of this world and the story – and humour – potentials within it are pretty endless. Also, I’d really like to see Svelt return, Gord willing!

As a general rule, most species fail quite spectacularly to get along with each other. This is particularly evident in the case of trolls and dwarfs. Nobody really knew how it happened—troll spoke to dwarf, which was severely frowned upon; dwarf and troll then dated, which was absolutely unthinkable. The next piece of the puzzle almost caused a major war! The miracle outcome of their subterranean love, being … Svelt. It is quite difficult to imagine what the result of a union between the two aforementioned species would actually look like … picture a flexible wall, about dwarf height and you’ve pretty much got it.

– Chris Whyatt, Svelt

You can follow Chris Whyatt on Twitter and Goodreads.

Flame Tide is available on Amazon and Svelt releases on 31st March but can be pre-ordered on Amazon right now!


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