When They Shine Brightest by Yordan Zhelyazkov


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I finished reading this last night; the debut work by our very own @YordanZh! I'll be as honest as possible!

I enjoyed it ; the pace was about right, there weren't any slow points, but saying that it's a fairly short book at around 220 pages. The chapters jump between two events which happen during two different times, but largely involve the same character. This was handled well, and despite it being fairly obvious how these parts of the story would combine, it was nicely done. The religious aspect of the book was well thought out, and was definitely one of the strong points.

I haven't read many books which are translated from their original language, and in this instance, some of the translations were a bit 'out'. I can't think of specifics right now, and it's only a minor gripe, but they irked me a tad. I don't think any of the characters will stick with me for a long time, but they weren't done badly by any stretch of the imagination.

Overall, I'd rate this 6.9/10.


A Poet of the Khaiem
Hey, thanks for the review, I'm glad you enjoyed the book! ;)

It did go through professional editing and proofreading, so everything should be grammatically correct, but yeah - with translated literature there are always some "out" and "weird" bits, unless it's gone through several different waves of editing. I hope I'll be able to pay for a couple more edits next time. :) Still, I'm glad you enjoyed it nonetheless. Atm I'm knee deep into my next work (not a direct sequel, but there will be some reoccurring characters) and it's shaping to be 500-600 pages long, which I'm much more comfortable with. 90k words feels like it was the right size for "When They Shine Brightest" tho - I wanted it to be small enough so that people are willing to give it a chance. :)

Thanks again for the vote of confidence and the review! ;)


Journeyed there and back again
My review from Goodreads:

When They Shine Brightest is a book originally published in Bulgarian and since been translated into English. The translation isn't that good (odd phrasings) and there are quite a few editorial issues as well. Nonetheless it's an enjoyable read.

With the above out of the way let's move on to the actual content. The prologue grabs you by the collar and sucks you right in the thick of it. It sets the scene perfectly for the two seperate plotlines that constitute this book and juggle the timeline and one character in particular, Korsak Dryshore. This veteran found himself at the command of the Seten army and was ordered against his wishes to fight invading forces in an unfavourable position. He loses the battle, his son and the respect of his peers and fellow inhabitants of Seten.

In the first timeline we meet our veteran as he recovers from the battle thanks to a woman and child of an adversarial people. In the second timeline we are propelled into the future when Korsak has returned to Seten whilst living under the shame of the city and the hate of his wife where he tried to cope with his current situation. Only, the conversation with the leader of the invaders, the Vanguard offsets his entire life.

The plotlines were worked out by the author but I failed to see the added value of of the first one. The payoff wasn't that high to constitute such a significant part of the novel.
The second part of the book picks up nicely and is guided towards a climax. As a reader I did have a clue where it all was heading, but we did get some twists at the end.

One of greatest scenes, apart from the prologue and the last chapter (excluding the epilogue) was the scene in the caves with Kruon and he discovered. Very well written and stood out.

The setting itself is restrained in a culture based on Central and Sout-American cultures (Mayans, Aztecs) with a distinctive religion. We even meet the Gods of the Wayfarer people, a surprising though ultimately endearing experience for fantasy readers. There's also a bigger story on the background. We don't know the specifics it sets up nicely for further endeavours.

The author clearly spent quite a considerable time honing his characters, yet not all of them worked. Towards the end of the book I liked Kruon and Krul the most. Despite being the principle character I didn't like Korsak although without a doubt he's fleshed out well. His persona is just not my cup of tea.

This novel will no doubt act as a fulcrum for the series Zhelyazkov is planning in this world.

6.8/10 | *** (GR)
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