The Wayfarer begins the way all of my favorite fantasy novels tend to: with a compelling world map that draws me into the world.
While there is a learning curve for most world-building accomplishments like this one, I think Wayfarer’s is relatively enjoyable to climb.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect it possesses is its mellifluent writing style – one of the most mellifluent I’ve ever encountered. For some this is a plus, and for others, a minus. If you prefer straightforward writing like Brandon Sanderson – who has never once used figurative language – then this is going to seem granulated. But, for fans of Lord of the Rings and other descriptive works, with a solid grounding in the imaginative locales of an atypical fantasy and a firm grasp of its character’s psychology, it will be a treat.
The noticeable poetic rhythm is countered by frothing imagery. With speculation ranging from inscrutable to far-reaching, straddling the insane and the epic, there is much to admire in this work on a page-by-page basis. For one, eloquent and dramatic interior monologue and the aforementioned spectacular imagery – much of which emerges directly from the protagonist’s viewpoint. The Wayfarer is enigmatic and profound, seeking in a dark land the answers to his troublesome past.
The poetics, making use of many fantasy tropes to conjure a setting rife with atmospheric tension, is the breadwinner of this literary endeavor. At once a merging of memory and conjecture, I basked in the good word choice and surprising sentence structure which enriched the texture of the prose and enveloped me in swathes of dense literary sensation. The colorful, tight editing, and the cinematic aspect inherent in every scene kept me turning pages eagerly. Taverns and blasted landscapes, to the deepest depths of the mind, barrows, crypts, and more well-adorned environments are integrated into a living, breathing world.
Rich with world-specific vocabulary, with ample context to compensate for the careful reader’s benefit, I was reminded a bit of John Crowley in the whorls of language, shaping bizarre landscapes and molding the thoughts of an unconventional protagonist. It is a universe of ceaseless motion, sprinkled with well-described action sequences.
In the end, it is a remarkably consistent, off-kilter apocalyptic trip, with haunting vibes, marked by clever description and it dwells between a dream of a challenging world and the familiarity of our own. Light on the dialogue and heavy on the narration – when there is banter, it is cheeky. Oddly named side characters aplenty, a subtle humor often verging into a disturbing subtext. This book provides sentence-by-sentence delights even if the plot sometimes takes a backseat. A unique and fondly affecting read.