Review: 'Fell' by David Clement-Davies
Fell is the sequel to David Clement-Davies earlier book, The Sight. The Sight was an excellent book following a wolf family, living in Middle Ages Transylvania, as they struggled through a prophecy and learned to deal with a legendary power and the crazed aspirations of an ex-pack-member.
Fell claims to deal with the mixed destinies of a wolf, Fell, and a human child, Alina. In reality, Fell is relegated to a minor character in his own story, only getting about a fifth of the chapters, and the aspects that might have interested fans of The Sight have been vastly minimised.
Flayrah contains reviews of Clement-Davies' previous books The Sight and Fire Bringer (which is similar to The Sight but deals with a herd of deer living in Britain slightly after the events of that book). Another review of Fell, feeling pretty much the same way, is written by Darfix.
The biggest change to Fell from both Fire Bringer and The Sight is the inclusion of human characters. Humans have not been absent from the other two books but played only minor or supporting roles, and I don't think any humans in The Sight had speaking roles. In Fell the main character is actually a human and the vast majority of interactions are those of humans. Fell is nearly the only animal character – a huge mistake in a sequel to what was undoubtedly an animal fantasy – and, apart from in a short run of chapters near the end, is the only recurring character from The Sight.
Nearly the only function of the sight here is as a tool of prophecy and to allow mental communication between Fell and Alina. Clement-Davies also uses the sight as a way to communicate with all animals because, unlike in most animal fantasies, his characters can only understand those of the same species. Still, this is poor use of it's true potential, which includes the ability to see through the eyes of birds and control the minds of other animals (but not humans).
For having far fewer characters than in The Sight, there is very little development or connection to them. The human characters appear very one-dimensional and Fell never really had much of a personality after the sixth chapter of The Sight where he was essentially turned evil. The main character change is of a minor character and only revealed right before the end. The reunion with the old wolf pack is well done, but meaningless to those who haven't read The Sight, and too short and with too few familiar characters for those that have. That said, this section is the only part that is true to The Sight and contains a far more evil villain than the human one who dominates the story.
Too often the book attempts to be philosophical, at times when it's completely inappropriate. This might have something to do with the lack of characters to interact with. While putting forward some good messages – that man is also an animal, that it's up to us to protect the environment and that religions are nothing more than stories like fairytales – it is done with no subtlety and makes the book appear preachy. As much as I might agree with some of the points, they often failed to support the plot and broke the fantasy.
The storyline itself is nothing special, following a fairly standard fantasy line of prophecies and travels climaxing in a final battle. However, it falls short in that it doesn't contain the features one expects when coming to the story. It's a huge change from it's predecessor and that only serves to alienate those coming to it from The Sight. This results in a story that is decent but feels disconnected and, despite having strong areas, overall is disappointing.