“Book Review: Of Revealing Contentions (Marhahnyahm, Book 1)”
Reviewed by Andrea Marks-Joseph
The supernatural adventures of a cursed boy and his mysterious travel companions
We come to epic fantasies in search of other worlds. And this novel gives us what we’re looking for.
The Ṃārhaḥnyahm of Tūmbṃār: Of Revealing Contentions is a magical adventure where we can witness the lush descriptions of various fantastical lands and acquaint ourselves with an eclectic cast of magical beings who aren’t being completely honest about their pasts.
Young Tūmbṃār is cursed to leave his hometown. When the time comes, he must journey away from his home for twelve years, but he does not see it as a curse: “In fact, it seems more of a blessing. It gives me reason to see all that the world has to hold beyond the reaches of those mountains!”
Instead of the looming darkness that a curse could hold over this story, we see the events through Tūmbṃār’s eyes, where everything is exciting and good-natured and there is always room for kindness. He is a joyous and generous creature and a lovely protagonist to follow around.
Tūmbṃār meets a strange but gentle cast during his adventure, including a wolf, princess, maiden, monkey-man, lord, priestess, and demon. He encounters several guides who offer advice, skills, and tools that will equip him for success on his journey. Each character is on a quest of their own, and they share their own compelling tales and folklore from their homes as they go, but they are revealing only what is necessary on this pseudo-family journey.
This withholding of important details of the characters’ backstories adds an aspect of mystery in this supernatural adventure storyline. For a significant part of the book, we witness their relationships building, and we discover new types of magic while unsure if the characters are simply on separate quests in similar locations or if their missions are linked in some way yet to be discovered.
We join them for brutal fights using divine weapons, royal mysteries solved, and training battles testing the limits of their powers. There is even a kidnapping investigation that interrupts a demon summoning, and it turns into a town-wide and discussed-with-demon-spirits debate on the death penalty.
Though it could initially be a challenge acclimating to the language style, the descriptive writing ensures that our reading experience is thoroughly atmospheric—perhaps more than it is plot-driven. There’s a very particular pace to this novel, one that I can best describe in terms of an on-screen adaptation: Ṃārhaḥnyahm of Tūmbṃār contains a plot that would work well in the pace of a full-length film, but it features settings and mythology that might more naturally span the length of a television series.
This is something to consider when you begin this book. It is a supernatural journey filled with scenes whose predominant aim is not necessarily to move the plot forward. Instead, the author takes us deeper into the characters and rich history of distant regions.
The author ushers us through the outcomes of Tūmbṃār’s curse with beautiful & vivid descriptions, visions from ancient gods, memories shared from kingdoms far away, and myths told through generations. All of these situations are well-suited to a reader who desires escapism and pleasant company for an epic expedition.
It’s worth noting that this is only part one in a series, and merely scratches the surface in terms of the twelve-year period for which Tūmbṃār is destined to roam, though it is surely action-packed and full enough of a story to stand on its own.
Genre: Fantasy / Epic
Print Length: 382 pages
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