A Marriage of Insects
A Novel of The World Tree
Written by: Bard Bloom
Published By: Padwolf Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I first started reading A Marriage of Insects by Bard Bloom, I was a bit worried. This book was based on a role playing game that I had never even heard of, much less played. I had no idea what the characters were like or even what the game was about. Of course, the first few pages were rather confusing to me, not knowing the difference between a Herethroy (cricket person), a Rassimel (raccoon person) or a Sleeth (cat person). But I realized that if I could figure out what all of the creatures in my Star Wars novels were about, I could ace this book in no time. By the thirtieth page, I was finally getting familiar with all of the characters and their different abilities…familiar enough to start enjoying the book.
For those who don’t know, in The World Tree role playing game, all of the characters are animals, insects or monsters – there are no humans, although the characters display many a human trait. Everyone on The World Tree, from the smallest to the largest creature, has the ability to use magic, whether it be a small cooking spell or a masterfully built magical defense system. Monsters in this world range from incredibly dangerous to simple pesky creatures. Of course, where there is magic, there are bound to be deities and The World Tree contains quite a few of these mystical creatures. Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s get on with the novel.
A Marriage of Insects begins with a three-way wedding between Herethroy nobility. Unfortunately, as per custom, the wedding was planned very far in advance and the participants are three Herethroy children. In an effort to ensure that the marriage is successful, the Herethroy adults decide that the three should live apart until their adulthood so that they won’t grow tired of one another. Thirty years later, one of the participants, Rajel, has become an adventurer and a mighty warrior in her own right. However, a brush with death leads her to seek out her husband and mari (the other female partner in the marriage). Traveling with her Sleeth friend and co-adventurer Arrwhy, Rajel returns to her home village, sending notice to each of her partners that they should meet her there.
Unfortunately, though intrigued, the other wedding partners have also created lives for themselves and are reluctant to give them up. Cassamint, the husband, is already in his second year of university studies and has a girlfriend of his own. Boragette has become quite a pleasant homemaker, but she, too, has fallen in love and is quite distressed by what Rajel’s message might mean for her and her current life. Once united, the three are at a loss as to how to act with one another, but Rajel is determined to try to make things work.
When Rajel and Arrwhy’s services are requested by a Rassimel wizard, Rajel decides that this may be the perfect opportunity for the trio of married Herethroy to get to know one another, especially since her mari and her husband are not very well liked by the rest of Rajel’s village. So, the trio and Arrwhy join the Rassimel wizard and his daughter on their airship and set off on a journey to Sohoon on the edge of The World Tree, where the wizard is being called upon to set up magical defenses for a village of monsters. Unbeknownst to them all, the neighboring village of Byronny is too aware that the monsters of Sohoon are about to know the safety of magical defenses. The rulers of the village are worried that the monsters of Sohoon will become a pirating race with little worry of defeat and an easy ability to hide from defenders of the law. A spy is sent out to deter the wizard and his friends from completing their bargaining with the village of Sohoon…at any cost.
I was surprised with how quickly I became absorbed in this book…well, it did take thirty pages to truly get into it, but once I was past there, the going was rather easy and entertaining to say the least. The fact that these animals exhibited human traits made the book all the more interesting. The action and adventure in the novel are perfect for any fantasy/action book fan, but the humorous moments in the novel add enough levity to make this a fun novel for any reader. I loved the emotional confusion felt by the characters in this novel. I’ve always wondered what it must be like for people who are forced to endure pre-arranged marriages. Never mind how challenging that must be, but adding thirty years and making the wedding a trio creates new and much more interesting challenges for the characters in this novel to overcome.
While I do recommend this book to any fantasy or role-playing game fan, I must caution against giving this book to younger readers. As you may or may not know, in the world of animals, one of the most important facets of life involves procreation. Given the human traits bestowed upon the characters in A Marriage of Insects, it is often hard to remember that these characters are truly animal in nature. Thus, sexual situations and discussions of that nature turn up quite frequently in this novel. In the case of the Sleeth, they tend to be rather amusing situations/discussions.
My only criticism of this novel lies in the ending. I felt it was rather rushed. However, I do recognize the author’s attempt at providing a suitable opening for a sequel and eagerly await his next novel.