The Third of Seven
Abram Jacobson is having a bad day. He wakes up in chains in an unfamiliar land with no idea how he got there and desperately few memories about his life. When he’s rescued by an alluring warrior and magic user named Konel, he slowly pieces together what’s going on. After traveling to another dimension, Abram has stumbled into the middle of a war between the Red Mage and the Gray Lord, dueling forces that both want access to the technology to travel across dimensions.
As Abram learns to navigate his strange new surroundings, he realizes that these dimensions are interconnected, and the abuses of planet Earth by man are affecting this world and others like it. But before he can take action, someone else from his home dimension appears… someone who will upend everything Abram thought he knew.The Third of Seven is the ambitious start to a new sci-fi/fantasy genre-meld universe, and as such, it has a lot of world-building homework to do. The author opts for a brisk pace to introduce the readers to the many dangers and strange denizens of this new setting, employing a storytelling style I like to think of as “just-enough-detail.” He doesn’t go overboard in descriptions or explanations, giving us just enough detail to understand, envision, and accept, before moving on.
Although that keeps the narrative lean and the plot humming along, it causes other problems where odd word choices can give the reader pause. For instance, the Fleigh are described as invincible and immortal, yet they get hurt and killed just like anything else. How does that work?
Those curious word choices — almost as if our narrator was a denizen of this new dimension and had his own unique relationship with English — put the reader off-kilter, breeding some distrust between the reader and the setting. If this is intentional — placing the reader in Abram’s shoes by being off-putting and a tad confusing — then mission accomplished.
That being said, there are some very engaging sequences where Guy’s writing shines. Ruth’s brief bout with invisibility is a high point, offering unsettling, fascinating visuals, particularly the description of how she comes back to visibility in stages. Great stuff.
And the world-building is very intriguing. This dimension, and the other neighboring dimensions that are alluded to but not seen, give The Third of Seven the feel of an other-dimensional Gulliver’s Travels, with giants and diminutive warriors and hyper-masculine beach-dwelling dudebros. It’s a travelogue and pulp-style adventure tale all in one, a story absolutely dripping with creativity.
Although The Third of Seven would benefit from an editorial pass to sand down the rough edges, there’s still plenty to recommend. The setting feels timeless and adrift in all the right ways — heck, if not for references to Krispy Kreme and Starbucks by Abram, I wouldn’t be able to pin down a time period at all.
Abram’s encounters with the natives are colorful, and Guy’s playful commentary on pulp storytelling, class warfare, and the harmful assumptions we make adds depth to a vividly realized new dimension. Even the “To Be Continued…” nature of the novel’s end is easily forgiven.
|Anaphora Literary Press
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|Science Fiction & Fantasy