Fantasy Review: ‘The Towers’ by Jordan Jeffers

The TowersAin’t that a shame?

My tears fall like rain.  –Fats Domino

Catching me quickly with a rare info dump with some actual style, the intro to The Towers had the voice of a village elder telling the story of a land’s founding.  We can only take it as fact as there is nothing to tell us otherwise, but quickly it is apparent that we are dealing not just with a founding story but also the very basis of a religion adhered to strictly by all with coercion.

Of course any religion has the potential to go semi askew over time.  Seven shames (deadly sins?) are prohibited, and a trip to the unshamers lays in wait for those who commit them.  But here is where it gets interesting.  You see the unshamers physically remove the shame from shamers, placing it in talisman.  And these talisman are the only thing the land has to fight against real nightmare of the land, a hoard of horrors that attack the land like clockwork every seventy years.  But it seems the horrors are suddenly twenty years ahead of schedule.

Ah, a nice Catch 22.  Shame is needed to fight the nightmare, but by definition should be avoided.  And the process of unshaming has its own issues; often it is tied to a painful punishment enforced by the same magic that removes it from a person (time spent in feeling the pain of childbirth seems particularly popular).  So of course it leads to a few who may resent it, especially as women seem to be singled out for their shame much more than their male counterparts.

It is an interesting set up, as are the other Christian allegories.  A Christ like figure died to save the people from the horrors the first time, and showed how people could sacrifice themselves to be a tower of light.  The people live by 100 commandments rather than ten, giving the powers of the land plenty of ways to see SHAME in them.  Anyone can be the lamb who saves the people, but each can only do so much requiring a great many possible lambs.

So all this is cool, as is the long pass of towers the horrors must pass through to do their evil; each defended one by one until hope is lost at which point… Well, a bell is rung.  From there, I would hate to spoil things, but it makes each chokepoint during the inevitable battle a bit more emotional.

What are lacking in this book, unfortunately, are characters I care about.  The general was as humble as anyone could hope for, an old ‘lamb’ is so obviously the most pious man around that his eventual role should be obvious to anyone paying attention, and the evil characters are just a bit too much (not the mindless hoard, those can be as evil as they want to be).  I did enjoy the stranger in town, who was supposed to provide an outsiders perspective on things to this isolated town.  But outside of her, just didn’t feel it.

There was also a weird goat thing going on that I wasn’t much of a fan off.  Either the author is in on the Goodkind joke (if you don’t know, I can’t help you) and took it to extreme levels or he really felt I needed a few PoV chapters from an incredibly intelligent goat. I could have done without them.  Don’t even get me started on the goat’s noble act that makes me think the whole thing HAD to be a parody.

Consider this one worth reading, if only for the potential in the religious set up.  But despite some major shows of sacrifice, some well-timed deaths, and all the things that are supposed to make ones heart race I never really got emotionally involved.  With the conclusion also being fairly heavily foreshadowed I felt there could have been so much more to this.

3 Stars

Copy provided by author for review purpose.

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