Review of Home Lost, by Franz McLaren

Quite some time ago I requested Home Lost (Clarion of Destiny Volume 1) from Caveab.com to review. (Sorry it took me so long to get to it.)

Description form Goodreads:
In “Home Lost”, Volume I of the the eight volume fantasy “Clarion of Destiny”, Leena receives the Garlan branch. From first contact her life is changed. After a solitary journey she returns home to find her village in ruins. Confused and alone Leena sets out to search for her family and to discover the reason that the Garlan branch has selected her.

**somewhat spoilerish**

I’ll be honest. I am completely baffled by this book. It starts off really well with Leena following her destiny and accepting the Garlan branch before returning to her decimated village. After that…

Usually such books have a fairly predictable progression, the hero (or heroine in this case) sets off on a quest, meets people along the way, fights a few henchman, challenges the enemy, wins, and proceeds to whatever version of a happy ending the genre demands. Here, not so much. It stalled out at the sets off on a quest stage. By the time the reader reaches the cliff-hanger ending that people have been praising Leena hadn’t even reached a destination, let alone her destination, hadn’t truly identified her enemy, and if you discount ‘serving wenches’ etc she met four people. She had two run ins with bad guys, none of which seem associated with her quest and not a single actual battle with her new all-powerful Garlan branch. She used it a time or two, but never had to fight with it or even cared to explore its power. To complicate matters Darius (one of the four people) spent about twenty percent of the book recounting a story that didn’t seem to have anything to do with Leena or her situation. It might become important in future books, but I saw no reason for it here. The book consists of Leena traveling. Period. End of story, pun intended.

None of this however is the worst part for me. These are:

1. Leena is The Chosen and is supposed to be a strong hero for the people, but from the moment she leaves her village she just follows one male and then another. She unthinkingly, and one presumes appropriately, hands all decision making over to them. Apparently, despite being the hero she can’t be trusted to decide which direction to travel in or even when to stop and eat and she never tries.

2. Darius’ story: I don’t want to give it away, but he tells a tale (in which he is by far the brightest of the bunch) about a group of greedy merchants encountering a much less advanced civilisation and practically destroying it. He then saves the day, but in so doing decides to help them by providing them with what they lack socially so that they are closer to the level of his own society. This however, is just a well intentioned version of exactly what the merchants did. They imposed their own culture onto another and declared it an improvement, even while acknowledging that not everyone in the society appreciated the change and there were negative effects. The whole thing stunk of arrogance and ethnocentrism. I’m really not into that.

The book isn’t without highlights. It is well written. I especially appreciated the prologue and the fact that McLaren was willing to allow his characters to fall to their absolute bottom before providing them with any sort of reprieve. There isn’t always a happy ending in life, and even when there is there isn’t always an easy road to it available. It and chapter one make me think that if I was willing to read the whole series and then consider the story as a condensed whole I would find a jewel, but I think it would just take too long. People like this book. I’m not trying to say you won’t, but it didn’t really do too much for me.

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