Exhumation: An Epic of Existentia (Acts of the Sojourner Book 1) by S. A. Chapman


Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Exhumation – Acts of the Sojourner – Act 1, An Epic of Existentia Chapman is writing an epic series about a mystical land of creatures, humans and many beings in between. The premise is worked out in the Act 1 of the Acts of the Sojourner.

Pious is an officer and head of the organization that provides some of the warriors for one group of the large city, Sanctuary. Act 1 is apparently all about his adventures as he sees his life changed from one of order and structure to one of chaos, trouble and loss.

Sanctuary’s politics are very subtle, stressed and with many machinations going on in all levels of existence for the people who abide there. There are Four Focal Towers that rise above Sanctum the center of Sanctuary. There are many factions, many of which are basically at war with each other in and outside of the houses of government and throughout the districts of this city.
There are numerous maps, illustrations and sayings that flesh out a campaign environment. All of the action and plots come from almost random directions. The plots interweave and twist and turn without apparent guidance. This goes on throughout the book and this is the first Act. There can only be a sense of wonder at the imagination that spawns such a complex and convoluted tale.

The myriad of characters that come and go sometimes with little or no interaction but appearing as bystanders in the story line, are almost limitless. The character development is shallow and in most cases not to be dwelt on. It seems that most of the characters are throw-aways to be used for a few scenes at most and then disappear stage left.

The plots, or actually machinations of the various groups, leaders and even individual bit players contribute to the complexity and the mystery, but they also leave much that is hinted at but never revealed.

As mentioned above, the illustrations are simplistic and amateurish. A culture with the history of cycles that the one portrayed here would produce would supply sufficient information and detail to make the maps at least more detailed if not works of art in themselves. The excerpts at the beginning of each chapter do more to mystify and confuse then they do to help, explain or even provide basic information about what is going on in the story.

Some of the most potentially great plot elements are almost totally ignored. For instance, the fact that Pious and his love Serana have been having a secret and hidden affair for some time and yet are trying to get Serana pregnant, seems to belie the hiddenness and taboo nature of their romance and coupling.

Ultimately, Sanctuary is attacked and then the plots all begin to multiply until there are more plots then apparently practical and even more new characters to deal with.

The Glossary at the back is helpful in some ways and downright needful to understand all these twists and turns.

It almost appears that the author is actually writing out a role-playing game’s history. Perhaps it was enjoyable to the players, but it is probably too complex for the average reader.
3 Stars.