Col Buchanan – Farlander

My first impression from the back cover of Farlander (2010) by Col Buchanan was a hard, gritty fantasy novel with dark undertones with plenty of action and twists. Reality turned out to be somewhat different. While set in a dark environment, the tone of the novel is more humane with slow development according to more natural flow.

Buchanan created in Farlander an original world with hardly any fantastic elements. However, some things were clearly based on Earthly analogues while his use of naming at times felt a bit lazy, lacking originality.

The amount of characters is kept to a minimum. There is basically one main character whose point of view is used most and a few others ones to provide some insights in other environment as the main character stays far away from it. I can’t really say there was substantial character development. My feelings towards the central characters was hardly different from that of the start. Of course they did experience things, but their behavior felt rather unchanged. Either so, Buchanan did take his time to spend time sufficient time on his characters. Nevertheless I did feel that certain things were a bit cliché. Characters took in common positions and in most cases there was a clear difference between good and bad.

For the greater part the plot follows the main character whose perspective used mainly. Occasionally some other perspective are used to give the story more depth. This because the main story is rather straightforward. For over half the novel there doesn’t really happen much and although the relative development pace is fast enough, the actual plot pace is slow. Buchanan takes his time to build up the required components of his plot. The reader however already knows what will happen, it is quite obvious. With a lack of layers and subplots – not counting two subplots that have little impact on the main plot – it all develops rather predictably, although of course the details remain unclear. The paths to follow are limited, although Buchanan does manage to add a minor surprise near the end. Buchanan chose to follow one storyline and left the subplots a bit dangling, although they could have provided some stronger entertainment. The choice he did make was original in the sense that most writers these days would have chosen the subplots as the main perspective.

I had expected more complexity and originality with Farlander. The story is rather simple and not that surprising. It was only the original world which kept my interest up. At certain moments I did get bogged down a bit. I could put the book aside if I wanted to do something else and pick it up anytime I felt in the mood to do so again. Buchanan’s prose is however fine and provides an easy read. I can only say that this book is an original and rather realistic fantasy with some cliché elements, which is an okay read. Better than average and little more than that. No disappointment (from what I had perhaps expected) while not impressive either.

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