Frank Viollis

Frank M. Viollis / 286 pages / One edition (July 3, 2011)

ASIN: B005A595ZG

Starting out with this book required overcoming a few hurdles, the most obvious being the novel’s format: spiral binding is not your standard binding, and holding a book that is 8½” x 11″ in size takes some adjustments. True, the spiral-binding makes it perfect to lay down and read while your hands are full, but it is awkward. Then, there is the type face; I’m not used to reading modified black letter fonts, especially all in upper-case, and especially not throughout an entire book. The last was a problem of adjustment: not since graduating have I subjected myself to the flowery, verbose language of heroic, romantic literature. (Can’t say I really missed it. Not a heroic fantasy fan.) On top of it all, Salafar Press could use a more skilled proofreader.

But, but, once past those hurdles, it’s a straight shot to the finish line. The story of this first novel itself is original and involving. A chapter or two in, and the language and the page’s appearance are familiar. From that point, it is only the plot and the characters and the strange, magic-filled world they inhabit that stand out.

Galanor, the hero of the series, is a superhuman figure; a barbarian lord of the exquisite land of Atlantis. As the end nears for Atlantis, Galanor is called to the temple to be given command of part of the fleet that is the doomed country’s last chance. The people will be “seeded” among the other civilizations around the world, so that the legacy will not be wiped out. The fleet departs and sets out for a dozen directions.

Survival is a struggle for the men of the Salafar. War-like races, demons, and stresses amongst the crew threaten to scuttle the mission. (Don’t get your hopes up for sexual tension; Galanor’s ship, at least, seems to have settled any women on board at stops along the way, before the adventure starts.) Time and again, it is the might and cunning of Galanor that spares the lives of his men.

The journey carries the ship and its cargo to many strange and dangerous places. In every land, magic permeates the lives of the denizens, much of it dark and profane. At each encounter, the question remains: can Galanor wield the wizardry without losing his humanity and his sanity?

Salafar Press plans at least one more volume in the saga. Sword and sorcery fans may grumble at its projected Spring 1999 publication date, but Salafar has enough merchandise to keep their heroes nearby until the new installment arrives. An audio cassette version of Volume 1 should be available before the end of the year. Be patient.

And, be patient with this radical new format. It looks different. It doesn’t fit in your purse or back pocket. The pages have the colour and look of parchment scrolls. Beyond Good & Evil isn’t what you’re used to, but you might well find that you prefer it. If heroic fantasy is your preference, this may be just the thing.