Science fiction and fantasy are often grouped together in the world of speculative fiction. However, the categories are often wildly different. One relies on the application of technology and science to problems, the other relies on magic. So when an author manages to combine science fiction and fantasy into one story, and manages to do it well, that is indeed something to behold. Kelly Blanchard’s Someday I’ll Be Redeemed, Book One of the Chronicles of Lorrek, is one such story. And I have to say, I was certainly impressed.
This book follows the sorcerer prince Lorrek, who has been missing-presumed-dead from his land of Cuskelom for ten years. He vanished after a battle with a technological demon from neighbouring kingdom Jerchom, a place that relies solely on technology, an event that is hiding much more than people think. Lorrek returns to his realm into the kingdom of Nirrorm, ready to help. The only problem is that everyone is blaming him for things he did not do. Lorrek then embarks on a quest to get back his good name. Unfortunately, things are far more complex than even Lorrek knows, and it’s going to take all of his friends and allies to solve this particular problem.
This book sports an enormous cast of characters, which I have to say was daunting at first. These characters, though, are all their own person and are very well crafted to be seen as unique and interesting. Lorrek is definitely an unfortunate soul who really just wants to help people to the best of his ability. Everything he does, though, seems to offend someone or cause more trouble. This particular set of circumstances make Lorrek relatable and also very entertaining. The other characters that make up the main cast are too numerous to mention here, but the fact that Kelly managed to create such a large cast, keep the characters straight, and make them both important to the story and interesting in their own right is quite impressive. She even does well dealing with names that are quite similar (actually, this was done on purpose, and it is very entertaining).
As far as the plot goes, there is also a lot going on in this book. Too much, it would seem, to be handled in one book. However, this is the first of nine books, so that is understandable. The main plot for this book—Lorrek trying to redeem his good name—is absolutely dealt with and explored properly. It is the main focus of this book; we are not bogged down with details that will never be answered in this book, nor are we faced with a cliffhanger that just stops the story and leaves the reader unfulfilled. (Though, there is a cliffhanger. Quite a dramatic one. But the story that we are faced with comes to a neat conclusion, if one that tortures the reader a little. As a writer, I appreciate this a lot. As a reader… Actually, I also appreciate this a lot.)
I would say that my main critique for this story is that there is a bit of head hopping between characters. The perspective of this book is third person omnipotent with some instances of limited thrown in. This is great and very helpful when dealing with such a complicated cast and plot. However, the head hopping between characters happens fairly frequently, even within a scene, and can make things slightly confusing. I think this would work better if the perspective shift happened less frequently, or if dialogue were to take the place of some of the internal monologue. I will say that even with the shift in perspective, the story does flow quite well and I was never lost trying to figure out what was happening.
Overall, I would have to say that Someday I’ll Be Redeemed is an epic start to a story that combines technology and magic, futuristic settings with medieval fantasy, effortlessly. The potential plot holes that come from such a pairing were well avoided. The cast of characters has someone to please everyone. And the story is just frustrating enough that you want to hug certain characters and whack others across the head. (Apparently, Kelly takes great pleasure in these sensations. I’ve been informed that all her books are like this. Which is fantastic.)
Rarely do I become so invested in such a wide range of characters. Usually, I relate to either the hero/anti-hero or the villain (often the villain). But all of these characters were entertaining to read. I enjoyed them thoroughly. And I enjoyed the mix of science fiction and fantasy. However, I have also become addicted to these books and need to go devour all of them.
I suggest you do the same.