Alastair Savage’s debut novel, The Adventures of Siskin and Valderan, is a captivating fantasy tale set on a different earth from our own, populated by humans, blummen and garrawacks, all of whom play important parts in this story.
Thomas Siskin and his older friend Valderan are harbour agents of the city of Lirara. We encounter them in the midst of a task for their employer, Babaroussa, a wealthy woman and descendant of the city’s past rulers. Babaroussa had sent a ship, the Lady Daye, to a far-off island territory to discover and bring back a statue of a long-forgotten god. Now the ship is adrift in the harbour after a dust storm, and Siskin and Valderan must get it back to the dock with its precious cargo.
What is usually a simple job for Siskin and Valderan turns out to be merely the first link in a chain of events that will lead them to a sinister figure, Istvan, a blumman who is determined to thwart them at every turn, especially during their third mission at the burial mound of Rawley.
Savage pits his clever but vulnerable heroes against a variety of Istvan’s henchmen, ranging from the vicious Grindlestone, a human plagued with a shapeshifting curse, to the garrawacks, goatlike sentient beings with horned arms and legs. In Siskin and Valderan’s corner, however, are the quick-witted talking monkey Jackanapes, and the solid, dependable Helene Valderan, a redoubtable spouse and mother.
Savage draws the reader along on his heroes’ fantastic missions through careful plotting and subtle foreshadowing, and entertains with original similes, such as: “Siskin was … eating like a pelican gobbling in a pool of trout.”
The Adventures of Siskin and Valderan carries readers on a convoluted and dangerous journey, and makes us hope that they, along with Jackanapes and Helene, will have more spellbinding adventures in future novels.
Alastair Savage was kind enough to share his writing and publication story with us; for more background on his own adventures, read his series Self-Publishing Odyssey.