Posted by: Matt Y | 06/11/2015

Review: Journeyman: In The Stone House

Journeyman: In The Stone House is part two of a story featuring Teodorq and Sammi and their journeys.

Early Immersion – The story opens explaining that the world this takes place in has a dividing line between the East and West and the only way to travel between the two is a bottleneck with a castle set to stop travelers between the two.  The beginning is kind of awkward, the world is called The World, the separation of land between east and west is the Great Escarpment, while one of the characters is named Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand.  The former titles sound generic and unimaginative but then the character name is like 300 Scrabble points.

Immersion is maintained – Personally I found the dialogue immersion breaking, which is sad because the back and forth between Teo and Sammi is often funny and clever.  It’s just the dialogue is all over the place.  Regardless of the dialect they switch to and from Teo and Sammi speak the same way and Sammi is shown to be an intellegent character who appears to choose to speak like cliche Native American stereotype.  When talking about the castle Sammi says. “Big magic, pile rocks so high.”

Then there’s the content of the dialogue between the two characters, it’s some weird mish-mash of fantasy and generic college-Brospeak.  Frequent use of “Hey babe,” and the use of “No skin off of my nose” “We gave you the straight skinny” “Duh” and so on.  There’s terminology for the sword fighting such as batter’s stance which doesn’t make sense unless baseball or cricket is a common past-time.  I mentally tripped over these lines every time I came across them because the setting and characters are set so far apart from our world and society that the familiar use of slang, idioms and terms felt out of place.

There is a plot – Kind of?  The story takes place with Teo traveling to get away from tribesmen that want to behead him and Sammi who is the Journeyman and is a traveler.  The conflict is when they get captured and find out one of the main warriors who wants to kill Teo is also captured.  While the plot would appear to be between these two warriors, most of the story takes place with Teo and Sammi recalling earlier events that took place before this section, namely with a spaceship they found and an AI hologram named Jamly who appeared and asked the two to help her, that they were her only hope.  Some time is taken to make a joke to the reader about a door panel that is considered a religious artifact.  It doesn’t get back to building tension between the two warriors for a while, and when it does it’s because they’re both being conscripted suddenly into the King’s scouts and are being trained in swordfighting.  I wish the transition from prisoners to conscripted warriors was given as much time as the bathroom door.

There are characters – I liked Sammi and Teo although they start and end the story as a couple of wisecracking guys.  Out of being tough Bros who make jokes we don’t learn more about them.  The King could be considered the antagonist but he’s barely a part of the story. Karakalan sunna Vikeram of clan Serpentine, aka Kal, is whom Teo fights and he’s given some clear motivations on why he wants Teo dead though.

There is foreshadowing and it doesn’t suck – Nope.

There are no gaping plot holes – None, but there’s also barely any plot.  Most of the story is world building and set up for later stories.

Pacing is appropriate – Drags in the beginning and then there’s a sword fight at the end that takes up a significant portion of the story.

The piece has an emotional payoff – Nope.  The only tension built was between the two warriors, who do finally fight but Teo convinces Kal that there’s better honor to be had protecting the clans from a bigger threat than their fight, so it’s mostly for show, and then Kal becomes convinced that the King through a loyalty oath has now shifted his responsibility from killing Teo to the King.

Like Championship B’Tok this story feels more like set up for a larger story and does not stand on its own well.  I did like the back and forth banter and the sword fight so it was at the very least one of the more entertaining of the slated works.  The repeated use of modern lingo in it I felt hurt the tale, the conscription portion feels like it came out of nowhere, we spend more time in the story reading a joke to the reader about a door than being given any reason to care about what is going on, and the fight between the two warriors is anti-climatic.

One Puppy Metric of Judgement: Unworthy.

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