Beyond the Sapphire Gate: Epic Fantasy Some Magic Should Remain Untouched the Flow of Power Book 1
By: R. V. Johnson
I’m always confused when it comes to writing reviews for books I-DIDN’T-HATE. Should I play up the good parts or tear down the bad parts?
When it comes to books like this, I don’t want to hurt the author. I did like the story. However, I don’t want to scam future readers who need to know there are issues. So…what do I say?
Here’s how I’m going to do this: I’m going to be as honest as I can while still doing my best to help the author sell his story.
Beyond the Sapphire Gate: Epic Fantasy Some Magic Should Remain Untouched the Flow of Power Book 1 …
Is as wordy and complicated as its title (with as many punctuations and grammar issues).
The story revolves around teenaged Crystalyn, an indentured servant in a world of extreme technological advancement. She is enslaved to the curator of some sort of museum (?) or artifact warehouse (?). I’m not sure which. At any rate, it is Crystalyn’s job to catalog the items Ruena (her superior) collects and store them away.
During the performance of her job, she finds a book of “symbols” she become obsessed with. You the reader must assume that these symbols have something to do with magic—although, you’re never really given this information from the author. This book of symbols (which Crystalyn evidently memorizes) leads to a situation in which she and her younger sister (whom she brings to work with her one night for no apparent reason) discover more magical items in Ruena’s office and you know what they say about curiosity killing cats… The two girls step through a magical portal into another world and land hundreds of miles apart on a backward, almost stone-age-era place called Astura where everyone seems to want to kill them both.
In Astura, magic is the operating force and everyone and their dog know how to use it. The story then becomes a Wizard of Oz type adventure in which both girls go through hell and high water to find one another. Along the way, they both discover that they too have magical powers—Crystalyn can use the symbols she memorized from the book as magical weapons of harm and destruction or as tools to protect and heal. Her sister Jade can read auras. (I personally think she got jipped.) They neither one seems surprised by their new abilities (or did they always have them—we the readers do not know).
One girl works with the forces of evil (unknowingly? Sort of.) and the other works with the forces of good (I guess).
As an added bonus, the girl’s father—Garn—falls through the same portal when he goes looking for his children.
It’s all a complicated and overly described and dramatic mess.
The author is obviously a talented and imaginative storyteller. What he is not, is a skilled self-editor.
The author of Beyond the Sapphire Gate… is wordy and overly descriptive in most areas; using so many words, and such lengthy and complicated compound sentences, that reading this story is as mentally taxing as lifting the heavy weights at the gym—which I never do!
(As you might have guessed, I have the same problem—so I know of what I speak.)
And yet, there are so many things that are unexplained and left open to interpretation in this story. This left me guessing a lot. I don’t like guessing when trying to immerse myself in a story.
In addition, there were a few grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. These too pulled me from the story.
HOWEVER, even as I catalog the things I didn’t like about this story I must admit… I didn’t hate it.
There is true talent in Mr. Johnson’s work. The story is inventive and interesting. The characters are fun and personable (although, they all need a little more character development). And the world of Astura is exciting and different.
While there were some moments I wanted to throw my kindle through the window because of frustrating questions or too strenuous mental workouts; I couldn’t make myself stop reading. It did take me almost two months to read. I could only get through a chapter or two a night. In contrast, the next book I read of similar length and style took only three nights.
It IS a good story. It IS also the first in a series. Some of the issues I had with the book (unanswered questions, for example) may be resolved in future books. I WOULD recommend it to lovers of the fantasy genre.
Just be aware, you will get your mental exercise reading this EPIC fantasy.