________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 34. . . .May 12, 2017


SPARX Incarnation. (SPARX; 1).

K. B. Sprague.
Navan, ON: GaleWind Books/Whisperwood, 2016.
546 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $22.95.
ISBN 978-1-988363-00-4.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Kim Aippersbach.

* /4



I struggled against my captor, scheming to trip him up and topple him into the water. It was to no avail. He was too solid and the attempt was stifled by little more than a strengthening of his already strong grip. In retribution, the guard went so far as to dangle me outward above the water, feigning twice to let go. Again, I felt like the “catch’o the day.” If only I could slip out of his grip, flip into the water and swim away, like so many pickerel had done to me on the shores of Blackmuk Creek. If only we could all do that. But the leviathan waited.

Marlin very publicly commented to the guard. “We should let him go, don’t you think? Look at him, he wants to be free. Do you want to be set free, baffling?”

I did. And I tried. In my unrelenting struggle with the guard, the SPARX stone unsheathed and all Hell broke loose. It began with little more than a feeling of utter helplessness—helplessness against the man’s strong grip on me. I did not fight the cascade of emotions that followed, for I knew them to be true. Maybe I could have shaken it off, but not easily, and to what end? It was over. There was nothing left to draw upon, so I just let the emotions swell within, run their course, and break through to whatever lay beyond. Beyond was some kind of strength, an inner tap.


SPARX Incarnation combines the previously published Mark of the Green Dragon and Order of the Undying into one complete epic fantasy. The story follows Nud, a young bog-dweller on a quest to understand the strange stone he digs up. His community is under threat from the acquisitive town of Harrow, and as he and his friends encounter various dangers and learn the powers unleashed by the stone, they realize they may have the key to saving their towns. Nud learns to access the consciousness of the Hurlorn, a race of tree-like beings, and is guided by a great White Whale. After escaping from a cavern, Nud meets the undying king who is driving Harrow’s aggressions from his Iron Tower. Nud’s friends are captured to be offered as a sacrifice to the White Whale, but Nud uses his Sparx stone to defeat their enemies and re-kill the king.

     Nud is telling the story long after it happens, when he has turned into a Hurlorn. Interludes throughout the book return to Nud the Hurlorn who philosophizes about his journey and about turning into a tree. The last few chapters after the climactic battle quickly summarize the rest of Nud’s life and his transmutation.

     Sparx Incarnation is a Tolkein-esque fantasy with an extensively imagined world and some intriguing ideas. It has a team of characters who interact with each other humourously and with the tensions and loyalties of longtime friends. There are fights with monsters and evil people, and the main character has to make difficult choices.

     It has the elements of a fun story, but the book is about three times as long as it needs to be. The narration is unwieldy with flashbacks and long descriptive and explanatory passages; politics and mythology are explained in stilted dialog rather than shown; plot happens sporadically between many chapters of travelling through towns and landscapes.

     The writing is often awkward and confusing. Passages describing the magical powers of the SPARX or the Hurlorn tend to be cryptic to the point of meaninglessness. The prologue and interludes from the point of view of Hurlorn Nud contribute little to plot or character development.

     There are many better epic fantasies from which to choose.

Not Recommended.

Kim Aippersbach is a writer, editor and mother of three living in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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