The First Candle
Eric B. Swanson
Author Solutions (2014)
Reviewed by Roland Hennesay for Reader Views (10/15)
“The First Candle” by Eric B. Swanson takes you on a hero’s quest through a dying future. Man has set this grim stage for their final acts, but have they set it alone? A brotherhood of monks that has kept ancient knowledge and traditions alive, are locked in a desperate battle with an enemy capable of eating their very souls. They have waged this losing battle in the hopes of helping mankind remember the truth. Now Martin Longbow, caught up in this timeless battle, becomes the newest messenger of the Monks truth. Along with some of his oldest friends and a few new faces, Longbow will set out across the desolate wasteland of the future, carrying the last copies of an ancient book that contains the truth about the darkness that is claiming the world.
The premise is unique in its perspective, and Eric B. Swanson certainly did his research into the skills and knowledge that his characters portrayed. The religious ideologies that he blends together to form the spiritual aspects of the book were also accurate and well researched. Swanson also has an eye for description, especially when it comes to fight scenes. Unfortunately, though, I did notice more than a few grammatical errors, which could be translation errors. Beyond that, I had a lot of trouble believing the dialogue, as it seemed dry and far too staged. At times, I would find myself rereading paragraphs trying to figure out what was said because there were multiple people talking and nothing to identify them, just a cascade of quotations. Making the book even more difficult to understand, it that it is written entirely in first person, but not entirely from one character's perspective. When the story switches from one character to another, the honorific is still “I” forcing the reader to figure out whom they are with through context.
For those of us that appreciate strong scientific facts and well researched theology, “The First Candle” by Eric B. Swanson is a decent read. In the future, I would recommend Swanson work on his dialogues a bit more, as well as fleshing out his characters better. In any good story, it is the characters that drive it, and the only way to know the characters is through dialogue. While the setting and premise were very interesting, I couldn't help feeling that the story was a bit predictable at times. All in all, there is definitely a reason to look out for Swanson's next title; I think that he could be a very promising author.