Thursday, 21 May 2015

Book Review: The Dark Tides

The Plot
Mark Piggott

I was sent this book for review. I wasn't totally thrilled with it. At first, I thought, 'Not another book about Avalon!' There are many references to Avalon in literature. It has taken me a bit of time to get through it.

It's not a bad plot, truthfully. The author tells us that the novel came to him in dreams, while on active service in the navy. It is an intriguing novel about what happens after 'happily ever after' of Avalon. Bringing in the Age of Technology. The war scenes are quite vivid, and creative, aside from the editing issues. I wish Piggott had done some research about Avalon and either stuck to it, or created a new world, rather than introducing the incongruous time frames.

Characterization and setting

It took me several hundred pages to really become immersed in the novel, it totals 537. The chapters jump back and forth in time, revolving around the life of the the *Gil-Gamesh, AKA Lord Bryan MoonDrake, a former commoner. I was uncomfortable  trying to put the pieces in the plot together, since I hadn't read the first book. It is a puzzle, and I kept wondering what I'd missed, but that was just me!  [*Gilgamesh was an historic king of Uruk, Mesopotamia, who lived sometime between 2800 and 2500 BCE. He is the main character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian poem.]

We need a strong protagonist and antagonist, which he has created in the Gil-Gamesh and Morgana le Fay. Yet, it is a different take on the world of Avalon. Many books have been written about this time, King Arthur and Guinevere were said to be in the year 500 C.E. (Common Era), a bit of an incongruous situation. Most of Piggott's characters come from dark forces created in myths and legends: knights, elves, dwarves, and include Latin and magical spells. They are well-crafted.

However, Gil-Gamesh visits Togo, in West Africa, and takes us into a real world place. I felt uncomfortable with the stereotypes of the Indigenous people. While the real Togo population has been the target of criticism of its human rights record, the characters in Togo made me uncomfortable. It would appear that the only characters of colour in the novel were those featured as tribal natives in Togo. I wasn't sure why suddenly we are introduced to a real tribe of people. Most of his characters are quite creative and magical (elves, dragons, and the like).

Themes Nautical and Religious

The Dark Tides does incorporate some interesting nautical premises. This was the most creative aspect of the novel. How many of us have had dreams of flying and airships?! This is where the author's expertise fascinated me. However, the incorporation of the religious themes made me uncomfortable. Piggott writes about this in a blog post. I kept thinking about all the novels I'd read about Avalon, traditionally inhabited by nine priestesses, known for their mystical and healing abilities. I adored these powerful women, and their Celtic religion, their gentle world, and I felt uncomfortable with the Christian references. If an author uses a well-establish myth, then he should be true to those legends.  (I.e., Avalon authors Marion Zimmer BradleyNicole Evelina.)


My editor friends read my posts, and gently point out errors. One cannot self-edit. It is impossible.  Self-publishing is a slippery slope. You need to pay a fantastic editor, which adds to the costs. In fact, some of the most terrible books I have read are self-published. I remember reading one book with nearly a dozen mistakes on the first page. As a retired teacher, it was painful reading this book. I kept having to reread to determine the meaning of the sentence. Also, adverbs are sadly lacking in several spots. This could be characterization, however. It was most jarring.

I.E. The vocative case

  • separate the proper noun, the person being addressed: 
"Please forgive me Lady Rose.
And you know what you are meat?
More than you witch.
Don’t bother arguing with your father Rose. [This seems as if Rose was a clergyman!]
I have faith in you father.
I love you wife." (sic)
Book one

Commas after interjections (yes, no, indeed)

"Well maybe your mother will allow me?...
No Hunter it’s not too late....
Yes your Majesty."(sic)

Typos - there are a few

"A turbine adorned his head.
Call me old fashion, but I still think...
You're the most stubborn woman I ever known!
...she did not agree with hi decision."

About the author

Mark Piggott enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1983, beginning a 23-year career. He served on three aircraft carriers and various duty stations as a Navy Journalist before attaining the rank of Chief Journalist. Now retired, he is the public affairs officer for Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va. His first novel, “Forever Avalon,” was published in 2009. He and his wife, Georgiene, live in Newport News, Va. They have three children.


William Kendall said...

It's a tough thing to write on- the Arthurian legend and its various tie-ins have been so written about that finding a new angle would be tough.

Nancy J said...

When I read anything, the spelling and grammar mistakes jump out so fast.. and reading.. " a turbine adorned his head" years ago a neighbour mentioned to me, when we lived in another small town, " I knew which country he came from, he had a turbine wrapped round his head"!! I tried so hard to not laugh.

Gill - That British Woman said...

not my type of book, but I do love your header photo!!

Mark Piggott said...

I appreciate your feedback on my novel. Even a bad review is good feedback for me to progress as writer. You're right, it is very hard to self-edit when your self-publishing. I know I need to work harder at getting it right before its published.

I do want to explain that Togo, in The Dark Tides, is not the West African nation you think it is. It is actually a small island just off the coast of Avalon that came together as a community when a ship carrying slaves from Africa to the New World shipwrecked on Avalon. They retreated to this small island and formed their own society away from the rest of the medieval world of Avalon. I used the fears of Africans toward white men, during the time of slavery, to create Togo. I also used African myths as part of that story to fit it into a world of magic.