Zinna Kingsley,
The Lord of Dream & Metal
(CreateSpace, 2012)

The Lord of Dream & Metal by Zinna Kingsley starts with a truly horrific scene: A shadowy dark creature with glowing red eyes is causing terrible pain and draining the blood from people who are restrained in a room like a hospital ward. He seems to gain sustenance from this.

From there on, there are multiple storylines that eventually converge. There is the shadowy creature, simply called Dark Lord, who ravages worlds and gains sustenance from draining the life-force from others. He lives in an alternate dimension that is lighter than ours, in that it has fewer metals and is less dense.

Meanwhile, on Earth, there are two very different groups of people involved. There is a young scientist/inventor named George Geronimo and his assistant, Karl Kamikaze. Together they are toying with the idea of a inventing a way to travel between dimensions.

Separate from that duo, there is a young adult named Chuck. Years ago, Chuck and his somewhat older brother, Brian, were both high on drugs and goofing around on the roof of their house. The end result was Chuck falling off the roof and suffering an injury to his central nervous system, leaving him unable to speak or walk, but with his intellect intact. Chuck has strange, recurring dreams in which he travels to a different dimension, where he is under the tutelage of a medicine woman, simply named Shaman. In that realm, Chuck is named Corak and can walk and speak without difficulty.

As you can see, we have two groups on Earth who are experimenting with different ways to travel between dimensions. Unfortunately, for them and for Earth, they attract the attention of the ravenous Dark Lord. He wants to travel to the "metal worlds," where he will feast on the inhabitants.

Will the Dark Lord ever reach Earth to consume everyone? Will Chuck learn to walk and talk again? Will Shaman be able to teach Corak to fly between the worlds? Will Corak's love for Cloud, in the ethereal dimension, ever be requited? Will George and Karl succeed at traveling between dimensions using scientific means? What are those enormous black cats that travel between dimensions to hunt? Will George's love for Viceroy ever be reciprocated? Will George and Viceroy survive the machinations of the secretly jealous and possibly insane Karl? What does a giant, winged, crystal horse have to do with any of this?

The creativity of the story is definitely a strength, as is the author's ability to interweave stories that eventually converge. The different methods of traveling between dimensions, in the same story, is quite original. The characters are interesting.

However, there are quite a few flaws. The biggest, in my opinion, is the constantly changing tone of the story. It starts as true horror, and the story line involving the Dark Lord remains in that tone. The storyline involving Chuck/Corak and Shaman is uplifting and ethereal in tone. However, the storyline involving George, Karl and Viceroy keeps bouncing around between dramatic and silly, or at least too lighthearted and borderline farcical.

Part of that storyline's lack of seriousness relates to the other flaw in this book. There is a definite lack of creativity, throughout the book, in how the author names his characters. I had trouble taking the story line of Karl Kamikaze and George Geronimo seriously, at least partly because of their names. The truly horrific villain in the story only has the name Dark Lord. George's would-be girlfriend is named Viceroy; we never do get to know her real name.

The pace of the story is good, and the level of suspense made me want to finish the book. However, the range of vocabulary was not the best I have seen and there was no real artistry in the phrasing. The editing was adequate, although there was an occasional missed word or a word substituted for a different word.

I felt this was a worthwhile read because it kept my attention and I wanted to finish the story to see how it turned out. However, I did not see it as a story I would want to re-read and I would not be enthusiastic about a sequel or another book by Kingsley.

book review by
Chris McCallister

18 August 2012

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