The Woodcutter King by Ærick Graham. Inkskald Press, 2016. Paperback. 408 pages.
I recently won a copy of The Woodcutter King in a Goodreads giveaway -- who knew that could happen!? -- and I was delighted when it finally arrived.
My favorite thing about The Woodcutter King, and what initially grabbed my attention, is the rich, classic fantasy style that it embodies. Just take a glance at the first few lines of the synopsis:
"The whilom Wardens of Wudelic woods are watchers and sentinels of the wild. Their roots run deep like the oaks and elders. Proud as towering pines. Their history is as an old language etched into ruins, they are now known as the Woodcutters. "
Doesn't that just make the epic fantasy fan in you want to snatch this book up? The Woodcutter King is full of legend, adventure, and a well-written world. The pacing of this book felt very steady, neither fast nor too slow. It has the feel of fantasy in the tradition of Tolkien in the sense that there is a lot of description and lore that is told throughout the book.
Graham's writing is truly developed and mature in nature. The dialogue itself is not the strongest point, but the rest of the narrative is written with a great amount of grace and meaning - I had my sticky tabs handy and ended up marking quite a few passages throughout the book.
At the heart of this story are the two main characters Alaric, the Woodcutter, and his son, Edrick. Graham takes us deep into the thoughts, desires, and struggles of this man and boy, and I found myself captivated by the events that they experienced, both together and apart. In addition to Alaric and Edrick is a fairly good-sized cast of characters that takes a little while to get used to, but once you remember who's who, everything begins to come together.
Although I really enjoyed this book and its components overall, I feel that it could have used a little but of cleaning up or editing to really make it shine even more. There were a few instances where the dialogue or certain plot points felt slightly awkward, but these were not issues that overtook the strengths of the novel and the overall prose of Graham.
Overall, I've given The Woodcutter King four stars.
(Also, can we take a minute to appreciate the beauty that is Graham's signature?)