Sweet Hope-Child of Mine
Review of EFC Book 14: Promised Land
Review by Tom Pahlow
Looking for a story that kindles your hope in humanity by showing you all the worst things we do to each other? Then Promised Land, Book 14 of the Earths Final Chapter series, by Jonathon Hemmings and illustrated by Bora Arslanbulut is for you.
The story follows Krystof, a young man from a tribe in the eastern wastes. Shunned by his tribe for his connection to nature and the pain that frequently wracks his body, gentle Krystof is soon thrust into some of the worst conditions a person can suffer. The massacre of his tribe, slavery and the constant presence of death is ever-present in his life after the wolf riding Khan-daichin capture him.
Not only does Krystof survive these conditions, but he thrives. It doesn’t take long for the things that used to set him apart to become gifts, granting him more power than he could have dreamed of. Underpinning it all is the importance of hope in our lives.
While reading Promised Land I found the main character, Krystof, incredibly human. At the start of the book, he is a weak man in both body and mind. As the story progresses, he grows and we can see him gain physical strength and power. What I loved most about his character was that despite being a good man, we see him revel in this newfound power. Tendrils of satisfaction reach out to Krystof whenever he exerts his might over others and acknowledging this makes him seem real to me.
The imagery that Hemmings uses in this book is incredible, bordering on poetry. A Canary is “a cheerful daub of yellow and orange against the striated greys and dull browns of the woods”.
While the Wolf riders come “charging out of the curtains of mist, like ghosts materialising from some nightmare realm into the tangibility of the present”.
These are just two examples from a book half poetry and half prose and, even though at times it felt overused, Hemmings’s use of poetic language is what hooked me.
My one major issue with the book is perhaps one of greed on my own part. I think I would have preferred this story as a much longer book. When I think of the timeline it seems to be less than a month between Krystof, the weak outcast, to go from free man to slave to wolf rider to (spoilers) Great Khan. Even more impressive given he had to duel the ruthless Khan with what could only have been minimal fighting experience.
Honestly, though, I think I just wanted to go along with Krystof during his time as a slave, his training and to see his relationships with both Ulysses and Gerel grow. But Hemmings would have had to make this novella more of a novel for me to get my wish. That’s the dilemma of creating likeable and interesting characters for a novella I guess!