In C.A. Meakin’s ambitious novel, a protagonist with humble beginnings and simple desires gets drawn into a mystical quest that forces epic deeds and reveals heroic traits.
Meakin has a solid sense of this fundamental plot precept of the fantasy genre, as marked by the best work of the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks. It’s this basic understanding that gives The Fisherling its intricate feel and compelling action, its colorful characters and imaginative depth. Meakin’s nearly 500-page tome may get sluggish at stretches, but there’s enough intricacy and adventure to carry the weight of the author’s detailed world.
The plot will feel familiar to fans of the fantasy genre. Grohg is a young Sch’nibbit, – a race of creatures with blue skin, small stature and bald heads — in a world called A’rehllendore. As seafarers who rely on fishing for trade, food and lifestyle, Sch’nibbits lead a predictable, sedate existence.
At the book’s outset, however, Grohg feels a wanderlust that’s soon sated by Ehnwayen, an elder of his village who offers him the opportunity to sail east to the uncharted land of El’ehc’orh. What follows is a series of adventures on sea and land that sees run-ins with scaly monsters and revelations about Grohg’s past. A battle between the forces of good and evil that threatens the stability of Grohg’s physical and mental world ensues.
The parallels to Tolkien’s Hobbits and their quest to Mount Doom are clear, but the story avoids feeling like an imitation. Meakin writes in a measured and poetic narrative style, a lightness that helps the reader persevere through the denser stretches of mythology and complicated backdrop of A’rehllendore.
Grohg may be a three-foot tall creature of fantastical origin, but Meakin invests him with a moving amount of human empathy and heroics. Indeed, it’s enough to make a reader feel at home in the faraway world of the Sch’nibbits.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.