Glyphbinder, by T. Eric Bakutis, is a high-octane fantasy adventure novel.
At the age of thirteen Kara learned that her mother was dying. Five years later, Kara is close to compiling a cure for her mother. The final ingredient is in the city of Tarna.
Sounds simple, but Kara may not survive the journey to Tarna.
Kara, a Glyphbinder, is being hunted by a madman who unleashes evil creatures and people to abduct Kara and her companions. One by one, Kara loses someone she cares for. What does the madman want from her and why is he so desperate? As the clues come together, Kara realizes she must do everything to save not just herself, but her world.
It’s not easy to create a fantasy world that’s unique, exciting, and fresh, but the author has done just that. The world Bakutis has created is not a simple one. There are layers upon layers of history and political intrigue in a world inhabited by magical people and unusual creatures. There are good people, like Kara, and then there are evils ones. To make matters worse, not everything is black and white. Even the good guys experience shades of gray. And the evil characters have depth and some of them are truly terrifying. This mix of characters and their motivations make Glyphbinder a page-turner. Just like Kara is racing to safety, the reader is racing to the end to see what happens next. The pages fly by in a rush and many of the action scenes will take your breath away.
Luckily for the reader, the author isn’t constantly dumping massive amounts of information. True, the world he’s created is multifaceted, but he supplies background info in small doses, making the world building much more palatable. The focus of the story is the action and massive info dumps would slow down the pace and kill the momentum. For a first novel it’s impressive that Bakutis understands how important pacing is to fantasy novels and he should be commended for the time he took to get the pacing right.
One aspect that is a bit puzzling is the author’s inability to permanently harm his main characters. There are many violent fight scenes and characters do die. But then they pop back up, almost miraculously. Now if it only happened once or twice, it wouldn’t seem so strange. Unfortunately that’s not the case. It’s easy for authors to become attached to their characters, causing them to protect them at all costs. And readers become attached as well. However, repeatedly resurrecting characters comes across as the author taking the easy road by simply hitting the reset button. How can almost everyone catch a lucky break? This may annoy readers who crave realism and at times it may make some think, “Not again.” It also removes some of the suspense that compels readers to continue reading.
Even with this flaw, it’s hard to deny that Glyphbinder is a highly entertaining novel that makes an impression. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next installment in the series. Recommended for fantasy lovers who enjoy a fresh take on world building and magic.