Cynmaer Grimmaw by Brandon Nguyen
“Waerkynsceal is the beginning of a series I like to call ‘Tales of the Taigh’ a semi-medieval Celtic lore based fantasy-adventure series. In Waerkynsceal, we follow the heroic deeds of the Durihnd Clan, one of many families of the Taigh, and their involvement with the cunning beasts of the wilds known as Waerkyn. In this first part, we look at Dorland Er Durihnd, the last surviving member of the clan who lives as a simple farmer in the small town of Tippehill. One day, an old Waerkyn by the name of Rulaf Darkpaw wanders into the Taigh after becoming lost and causes damage in his travels. The people grow fearful and call upon the king’s guard – the Vandgard, in order to deal with Rulaf, but as the Vandgard has not had to deal with such issues in many years and their members are made up of spoiled nobility, they take too long to assemble, and so when Rulaf finally makes his way to Tippehill, Dorland, feeling a renewed sense of adventure he had lost from his childhood, takes it upon himself to hunt and possibly kill Rulaf. This encounter sets off a chain reaction in which Cynmaer Grimmaw, the lord of the Waerkyn, goes to avenge Rulaf and seeks out the supposed “Wolf-chaser”. Dorland is once again called upon to handle this Waerkyn, but at the same time, the people plead for the king’s guard to arrive. Will Dorland be able to handle the ferocious and highly dangerous Cynmaer Grimmaw? Read to find out.” – From Amazon
The Taming of Cynmaer Grimmaw is a short story told as a Celtic fairy tale. Mister Nguyen has a mind for storytelling, and it comes through, though the story is perhaps not as original as we would have liked. Wolves terrorize the countryside, and while we will not spoil the ending, Cynmaer is a wolf. We are given several perspectives through the length of the book, but not one of the characters is identifiable enough or likable enough to come through as a real protagonist (with Dorland being quite unlikeable). Told as if someone were telling it rather than as a traditional novel, it gains some points for the intriguing execution but lacks the subtlety or depth we would have liked to see even in a middle-grade novel. There is much more telling than showing, though we grant that to the nature of the story, we never felt we caught a real glimpse of the world that had been made. We saw plenty of Gaelic names with accents in strange places, but nothing that pushed this story to a level that would make it noteworthy. Perhaps the short length, 68 pages, was the greatest detriment to the work.
Since it was told as a fable, we looked for a deeper message, but we found we came up dry. That being said, it was enjoyable enough and appears to be the beginning of something better. We look forward to seeing Mister Nguyen’s future as he grows as a writer.
The Rating: C
While an impressive first effort, The Taming of Cynmaer Grimmaw is not something that could be considered a cut above the rest. The lack of character development and the two-dimensional world are difficult to look past, though the execution was good enough to earn it a solid C.