Beginning of a Hero tells the story of Luke Callindor, a young adventurer determined to prove his worth outside of his family name. His chance comes when he meets a royal messenger, and convinces him to hire Luke to protect the heir of Duke Solomon. Unfortunately, Luke has no information on what the heir looks like, no clues as to who they might be except that they are currently at the Hamilton Military Academy, a school run by former mercenary Selenia Hamilton. Luke has to avoid suspension, discovery and death at the hands of a demonic assassin, all while trying to work out who, exactly, the heir is, so he can protect them.
Admittedly, it took a while to really get into the book. Mainly because it’s a style that I (and I suspect most people) aren’t used to, the use of third person present tense. If not done well, it can be horrible. But luckily, Charles manages to pull it off, and after getting past the first few chapters it becomes much easier and enjoyable to read. I have read some third person present books that have been horrendous, and it’s great to see a writer who can actually do some good with it.
The characters themselves are nicely written, especially the characters that populate the academy around Luke. Some serious, like Selenia, others funny and comedic, adding a nice bit of humour into the plot. Luke forms his own group, made up of the people he trusts and likes, to help him in his quest. The characters balance each other out, and add something different to the action scenes later in the novel.
Possibly due to the use of present tense, some of the action scenes do get a little muddled. In places, it is a little dialogue heavy, and the dialogue is used for explanation purposes perhaps a little too much, detracting a bit from the story. But it’s definitely a novel where it feels like the author is getting better and better with each page, and it’s easy to enjoy reading it.
I’ve read a few self-published novels in the last few months. Some have been terrible. Others have been actually, pretty damn good. Maybe not as polished as traditionally published novels, but then again, these authors don’t have a whole team of editors behind them. And I’m very, very glad that Beginning of a Hero falls among them as one of the best self-published novels I’ve read, and it’s the strongest present tense one I’ve seen. If you like fantasy, and want to read something a little different, I strongly suggest picking this one up.
Oh! And what excellent timing! The novel’s free for the next three days, so go check it out and check out Charles’ blog while you’re at it, too.