SPA-F: The Madness of Hallen (The Khalada Stone, #1) by Russell Meek

March 12, 2014 paperback, self published, series 0

The Madness of Hallen

Half a millenium ago, the mind of Husam al-Din was ripped apart and scattered beyond the borders of the known lands. Although secured by bloody war, the peaceful legacy he brought has begun to collapse, and the world once again starts a slow descent into chaos. Against all who betrayed him, al-Din will be forced to reclaim those who survived.
There are none who can prevent his return, but there are three who would control him. All that stands in their way is their own sanity, and everyone they love.

In the mountain city of Brunn, a darkness gathers around Ohrl. Restlessness, a sense that his life should mean more than it does. On his first journey beyond the mountains he begins to understand that destiny cares not for his petty desires. It is vicious and brutal, and it will not stop until either he, or it, are totally consumed.

Na’ilah’s search is almost over. She can feel his mind pulsating here in the city, but she cannot take it through strength of arms alone. Her armoury is cunning, manipulation and betrayal. Her will is to be obeyed, and her cruel heart will show no mercy to those that stand in her way.

His mind will be a vessel for the betrayals of his kind, and in time he must decide upon their right to survive. Yet before that decision can be made, Faerl must release the six most powerful men that brought this curse upon them, men who died half a millenium ago.

The Khalada Stone is the first of four epic novels following the lives of two brothers in their quest against the rightful heir to the mind of Husam al-Din.

Amount Read: Prologue and Chapter 1

What did I think? Well, I feel like I have previously established a relationship with Russell Meek. When this book was originally released, Meek posted about it in a group I belong to. I thought the cover was really pretty and his website is beyond beautiful…I love his website. Everything is so polished and professional and branded that it was astounding that Meek is self-published. The blurb was horrific but Meek’s demeanor and professionalism really intrigued me. My biggest issue at the time was that there was no ebook available (that has changed) and Meek is a New Zealand author. Shipping from New Zealand is…cost prohibitive.

So I waited. And waited. And waited.

The book was released in ebook form about a year later. But only for Amazon’s Kindle. Damn!

So I waited some more. And waited. And waited.

I finally got in contact with Meek to request notification of the ePub copy release and – in his kindness – he instead sent me a signed hardcopy.

Wow! I was ever so excited! The book is just as beautiful as I expected (I’m such a cover-whore). Everything about this book/series is so well branded. The site and the book go so well together that having a printed copy was super exciting!

But man, is this font small and tight. And this is a long book – 443 printed pages (about 216,470 words) that would average out to over 865 pages in MMPB format. So it is also a bit intimidating.

When I finally got a chance to start reading, I learned something else: Russell Meek is a fine writer who really needs the careful attentions of a great scalpel-wielding editor (someone who would excise just enough but not too much). The Madness of Hallen has very beautiful descriptive prose but it often feels like Meek is the King of Overly-Descriptive Prose. Here’s a section of the prologue that describes a sunrise:

With majestic grace the Haeringr appeared before them, the northern half of a range of mountains that divided their country in two. It was as though stage curtains were being drawn open just for the watchmen, revealing Brúnn in pristine virgin snow. As the morning sun finally crept over the mountain peaks, a shaft of light speared the city, leaving the men momentarily stunned.

“We might not have much in our ways,” came a low gravelly voice from beneath Bakke’s furry hood, “but I bet there are few others down in the city that will ever have laid eyes on a more beautiful sight than that, Poulle my boy.”

Poulle watched the sun’s light caterpillar over the buildings, sweeping away the cold blue tone of the night’s snowfall.

“It’s just a sunrise,” he said, his thoughts spoken unintentionally out loud. They happen everyday. How amazing can it be?

Poulle’s eyes followed as the sunlight crept silently over the rooftops, dipping into snow-covered lanes and courtyards. The town hall sparkled as the new dawn sun glistened off its steeple. Shadowy shafts stretched from chimneys and towers as the light mixed with smoke from the kitchens.

Relentlessly the sun continued to push back the cold, a wave of warmth forever seeking a new path. Only here the sun had no need to go around stone and thatch, it surged over all in its path, gathering force and strength. It poured through Brúnn, then suddenly faltered as it fell into the mighty Oystkrakr, the huge chasm that split the city in half, and plunged over a thousand feet to the Oysteinn river below.

Poulle held his breath as Brúnn was again lost to the cold clutches of winter. His heart beat eight times, but he felt none of them, until the ninth burst against his chest as the sunlight erupted from the western cliffs of the Oystkrakr.

He was transfixed by the sun’s path, nothing could stop it as the city was compelled to give in to its whim. It reached the far end of the long narrow causeway between the watchtower and the city gate, the ochre and red mixture of stone and cobbles igniting like a trail of explosives powder.

Like a fire rampaging unchecked, the light consumed the base of the tower, climbing ever higher toward them. Poulle clung to the open ledge, urging the warmth of the sun to envelop him, and soak into his chilled bones as though he was deep in a hot bath. Before it finally hit, he closed his eyes in anticipation and inhaled one last cold breath.

He waited. After several seconds he opened one eye, still convinced something momentous was about to occur, but nothing happened. He looked about only to see that the sunlight had moved well past the tower and had come at last to the western wall, and the imposing west gate. Disappointed, he turned to see Bakke standing in front of him, staring at the expression on his face. Then Bakke erupted into laughter.

That is…a lot! I enjoy the descriptions while still being completely frustrated.

I do plan to read the rest of this book (as well as write a full review) but now right now, lol. This series is faaaar from completed (I believe Meek is about to release book two in this series: A Brother’s Bond. One of the reasons I think I feel more compelled to finish this book is that I have a hardcopy. It sits there, accusing me. O_O

Leave a Reply