- Author: Nyki Blatchley
- Publisher: [self-published through] Stonegarden.net Publishing
- Published Date: 2009
In At An Uncertain Hour, we hear the story of a man called the Traveller who has lived for centuries and started a great war a thousand years ago with a being known as the Demon Queen. It’s a book to keep on your radar.
Pacing & Worldbuilding
We follow the Traveller basically from birth as he grows up in a small village, naïve to most of the outside world. He behaves more or less like any of the other children in the village until one day a storyteller says that he can tag along with him to explore the entire world. And the world is massive. The book does a very good job of showing that. I enjoyed not spending the entire novel in one area and only hearing about others in passing. We actually got to visit multiple places.
However, while we can see the size, there isn’t much detail going on. I think the book would have benefited from more length. The towns and cities are each unique, but they feel flat. This is the small town. This is the city that supports the Demon Queen. This one doesn’t support the Demon Queen, etc. I wish we could’ve spent a bit more time exploring the different lands. As it is, we only get glimpses of them.
I almost felt a bit rushed at parts of the novel. The tone begged for a large, slow-burn book, but the pace was that of a fast-moving one. Admittedly, these moments didn’t happen often. Nevertheless, I would have loved to explore more lands, especially Xar-Toren.
Xar-Toren has such an ominous vibe to it that really fits well with the story. We see demons and dark magic occurring here. It’s a land that is shrouded in mystery but a little too much mystery for my tastes.
Exploration is a big part of the novel — both in terms of coming-of-age and worldly exploration. The Traveller faces hardships and challenges that force him to grow as a person. He develops intense relationships with both men and women throughout his many years of living. We get an intimate look inside his personality, as he is the one telling the story. We see his strengths, his flaws…most everything is open. He is an amazingly well-rounded character. But he seems to be the only well-rounded character.
That’s not to say everyone else is completely flat; they just don’t stand out in my mind. For the most part, I just tended to group everyone together: the townsfolk, the shipmates, the warriors, etc. Each group as a whole had character, but the individuals themselves felt lost within the group.
This is another thing that I think could be solved by more length. From what we see, the side-characters seem very interesting. A few fall into being almost comically bad (morally speaking), but overall they each have their own nuances about them. His crew among Searcher (his ship) was great fun to read about, and I wanted to know them more.
The writing was excellent. It was always engaging; in fact, I read the vast majority (<80%) of the book in one day. I will say that I found the “big reveal” a bit too obvious, though. And I don’t know whether it’s because it was foreshadowed well or because it really was that obvious. I don’t think it was supposed to be this shocking twist; however, I personally would’ve preferred to have come to the realization gradually. The ultimate conclusion did somewhat surprise me, and I really enjoyed how everything wraps up.
Overall, this is a book for anyone looking for something similar to Name of the Wind. The Traveller remind me a lot of Kvothe (albeit much less arrogant). It’s a story of uncertainty, exploration, and magic. Not everything is answered, and I’m fine with that. As it is, it’s a standalone (as far as I’m aware), but I could easily see this getting companion sequels or prequels. Despite it’s flaws, this is definitely one to check out.