Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review: THE JONGURIAN MISSION by Greg Strandberg

Original Goodreads review posted on Jun 23, 2015.


"In the West, a fragile peace has held the bickering provinces of Adjuria together for the past twenty years. In the East, the Empire of Jonguria has been bound together for generations by force. But now both countries are losing their grip. Will an Adjurian Royal Council offer up a solution, or will politics prevail? Can two ancient enemies bind their wounds, or is their hope for reconciliation, the Jongurian Mission, doomed from the start? Join a motley group of war veterans tasked with opening up a reclusive country. But when their mission of peace suddenly turns deadly, all bets are off, and the Jongurian Mission takes on a whole new meaning: survival."
—Amazon Plot Description

The Jongurian Mission is the story of a young farmer named Bryn who lives in the country of Adjuria. Bryn's uncle, the official of their state, takes him to a trade conference in the Adjurian capital to teach him about politics. At the conference, Bryn's uncle advocates for reestablishing trade with the foreign country of Jonguria. Trade ceased between the countries due to war, and after Bryn helps to sway the vote in favor of his uncle's proposal, Bryn, his uncle, and several delegates who voted alongside Bryn's uncle, are sent off to Jonguria to negotiate a trade agreement.

Things . . . don't go well.

The world building in this novel is top notch. Greg Strandberg put a great deal of thought and planning into the creation of his setting, detailing each Adjurian state's purpose, their unique emblems, and the identity of each state official. The descriptions can be quite lengthy, and this will put off some readers, but I love detailed descriptions, so it works for me. This book doesn't go into as much detail regarding the Jongurian territories, but I believe this makes sense because the book focuses on the viewpoint of the Adjurians, most of whom might not know as much about the Jongurian geography and culture. I suspect the later installments of the series will delve more deeply into the Jonjurian culture and geography. The plot flows well, the political intrigue is engrossing, and the danger the characters face in the second half of the book is gripping.

This book does have some issues. There were occasional grammatical mistakes, but these were very rare and the novel was fairly solidly edited. Still, I would have a copyeditor go over this novel one more time, and many sentences ran a bit too long and could have been trimmed down. A slightly bigger problem was the Adjurian characters, namely that there were way too many of them and that they were introduced all at once. Aside from Bryn, his uncle Halam, Rodden, Jurin, and Willem, I couldn't keep any of the other Adjurian delegates straight or pin down their appearance in my mind. I think adventure narratives like this work better with small traveling parties, and each character needs time to be introduced and solidified in a reader's mind before throwing several other characters at the reader. In addition to this, Bryn isn't a particularly interesting character. I'm not a huge fan of featureless protagonists. I understand that characters like Bryn are meant to be audience surrogates, and Bryn's lack of personality is so readers can more easily insert themselves into Bryn's place, but some readers may find Bryn dull as a consequence.

It's a bit of a difficult read, but I still recommend it. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Jongurian Mission is available on Amazon.com

"Greg Strandberg was born and raised in Helena, Montana. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2008 with a BA in History."
—Amazon Author Biography

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