WATCHMEN OF PORT FAYT Worthy of a Family Movie

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Watchmen Port Fayt David Fickling Books Conrad Mason Critical Blast

THE WATCHMEN OF PORT FAYT from David Fickling Books, and available in hardcover on August 25th is the first novel by English author Conrad Mason and the first book in his TALES OF FATE Trilogy.

Conrad Mason is a graduate of Cambridge University and is an editor of children’s books. So while he's no stranger to children’s literature, THE WATCHMEN OF PORT FAYT is his first novel. Based in a mythical town called Port Fayt, inhabited by humans and elves, imps and ogres, trolls and fairies, goblins and dwarfs, Conrad weaves a well-constructed, thought-out story of mystery, intrigue, monsters, magic and mayhem. The book even has a rudimentary map displaying the town and surrounding oceans, islands and old worlds a la Tolkien and a glossary of many of the various beings mentioned above cleverly written as part of the book.

Though written for the 8 to 12 age group, if it weren’t for the cover drawing having been done in almost a cartoonish animation style, I would not have thought it to be a book written for kids so much as a book that kids could read.

Port Fayt was founded ages ago and is a place where the many different beings mentioned above live together in an uneasy harmony with the world closing in on them. The story focuses mainly on a group of individuals called the The Demon’s Watch, led by Captain Newton, who protect the town from smugglers, thieves and evil doers by working outside of the uniformed Dockside Militia service in the same way Batman works outside of the Gotham City police.

Newly initiated into the Demon’s Watch is Tabitha, a young girl brought up under the care of Captain Newton and who has something to prove to her mentor and herself. Tabitha gets herself intertwined with the other main character in the story, a young half-Goblin boy named Joseph Grubb, who, through turns of events, finds himself involved with smugglers, pirates, and witches all after him and bent on the destruction of Port Fayt. It's not until fate (ha ha) brings them together that the mystery is identified--but by then it could be too late for any of them to do anything, as they are up against more than they bargained for with the League of the Light bent on ridding the world of any being non-human, and willing to go to any length to see it through.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It was so nice not to read something with cursing and sexual innuendos peppered throughout the pages. What I like most of all was that, while the story was fairly complex and very detailed, it was written in 36 chapters plus a couple of Interludes and an epilogue, over almost 400 pages, rather than just 7 or 8 chapters. Why I liked this was that I didn’t forget what happened in the previous chapter when it was time to go back to that character’s line of the story. All too often books are written with chapters so long that by the time we return to a different part of the story, I’ve forgotten what happened and who it happened to.

What makes this book click so well for me also was that it was written by an Englishman. Now, you may say, "What does that have to do with the price of rice in China?" but hear me out. When you’re talking about a story that is steeped in seafaring, pirates, portside towns, and quaint Old World food and drink, whether or not it’s a real town or a fictitious land, the English have had a much longer history tied to it than anyone else. That lends a degree of realism that anyone else would just have to make up, and the degree of realism that Conrad brings to the book by writing in detail about different parts of the ship, weapons of the day, and even names of parts of the town is wonderful.

I can’t find fault with this book in any way. It easily can be a book that any kid who loves adventure would want to read and look forward to the other books in the series. And it easily is a nice read for any adult who wants to read a solid adventure story that that isn’t dumbed down. As I read it, I easily envisioned Johnny Depp playing the role of any number of characters in it, and I’ll bet many others will too.

Aaaar-tily recommended.

4.5 / 5.0