Sunday, June 1, 2014
The Legend of Manfin: Evolutionary Complexity Abounds!
I stared at the author's name, question marks hovering above my head.
"La Roche... Who is Laura Wright LaRoche, and why is her name so familiar to me?"
Then, I opened up my blog dashboard and
It hit me.
She did the cover design for the first ebook I reviewed on Undiscovered Tomes. How awesome is that?! It truly is a small world. As you can imagine, while I was already interested in reading this one, I was even more intrigued upon making that discovery.
Tiny coincidences like this make the pleasure centers in my brain light up. Bright flashing neon colors.
The Journey is the first book within the Legend of Manfin series, by Laura Wright LaRoche.
So what's it about?
Manfin are believed to be a myth, something that is only talked about by drunken sailors and crazy old men living along the shorelines. Ashaw, however, knows differently. He saw one when he was a young boy, and he's determined to find their society. Now a man, Ashaw hires a captain and his sons to take him on his quest for discovery. When they find the Manfin, they're introduced to a world both beautiful and harsh.
I found that The Journey came from a unique perspective. We've all read mermaid stories, and while each one holds something special within its pages, this particular ebook took the mermaid legend a bit farther.
Imagine a race of people that is a cross between mermaids and humans. A sort of evolutionary link that bridges the two. Rather than magically forming in some great mist of sparkles, the Manfin's tails never disappear from their bodies. Instead, they roll up and away from the legs, still attached to the Manfin's body at the base of the spine.
Pretty cool, huh?
LaRoche has created an entire evolutionary background that makes sense. Indeed, her ideas about the creation of mermaids, Manfin, and humanity were so well thought out that I was tempted to call this science fiction, rather than fantasy.
This novel told the tale of not only Ashaw and his crew, but several other people, as well. The royal family of the Manfin, a loner inventor, and even an old man waiting for his wife to return after 20 years had places within this story. We glimpsed their pain and joy, we saw the harshness of the world the Manfin lived in, and we were involved in betrayals and acts of courage throughout the book.
...And there are complex interactions with other sea life, as well!
While I think that the author had a bad habit of telling us about what would happen in the future, rather than allowing the reader to discover these events by surprise, the world was so well researched that I didn't mind this nearly as much as I normally would.
I also had a problem with some of the choices made by the characters that I feel people accustomed to a harsh physical environment wouldn't have made. It's clear, though, that the Manfin are an evolutionary link between man and mermaid, one step below humans, so perhaps I shouldn't judge their choices on the same level that I would judge human choices in a similar situation.
Regardless, the evolutionary and biological complexity of the Manfin was so intricate that I'm willing to look beyond these flaws. LaRoche has the talent to create a superior background for an entire race of intelligent beings, and that's nothing to take lightly.
I'd love to see what other fantastic creatures she could produce!