The Diplomat and the Desperado Stories, by PanOrpheus

The Diplomat and the Desperado Stories is branded by “PanOrpheus,” a pseudonym that makes sense because the author should not want to put his own name on this collection of episodes in the existence of the two titular characters, who exist in “Noirtown,” (a non-Earth-based realm that exists only in black-and-white) and who make sojourns to Earth for various encounters (I can’t call them adventures). This is not a book that I can recommend.

The first problem here is that this book needs an editor.  There are far, far too many errors that would be caught by a good editor or proofreader.  The author’s writing style is difficult at the best of times. But reading the book is made much more difficult because of the missing and incorrect punctuation, missing paragraphs that make it hard to figure out who is speaking, misspelled or misused words, etc. The sloppy editing is distracting and makes the book hard to read.  In many places, it’s impossible to figure out which character is speaking because of the confusing or absent punctuation.

The second problem here is the absence of a coherent story.  I understand that these are a collection of episodes rather than a continuous narrative, but there still needs to be a plot/story for each short story, and it would help if there were some connecting theme that ran through the whole book.  Instead, the reader is getting more of a stream-of-consciousness series of events that are disconnected.  There’s no point — no solidifying story.  Some of the events are interesting on their own, but not so interesting that they make a book, or even a short story, without a better overall plot.  It’s very hard to keep reading when you don’t really understand what’s happening or why you should care.

Then, there are the characters.  The author has created some very unique characters, but doesn’t allow the reader to understand what’s motivating them and why they are doing what they are doing.  It’s hard to connect with them because the events are so disjointed.  There are references to events and names but without any connection that keeps the reader interested.
There is also a general absence of explanation.  About a third of the way through the book, the reader finally gets a clue about what’s really going on, but it’s not enough. Why is the Diplomat spending hours in the antique toy store?  What’s the point of that? What is his larger mission?  Who sent him?  Does he just act independently to satisfy his own curiosity or whims?  By doling out occasional clues and subtle references to what’s really happening, the author is trying to keep the reader guessing and curious, like it’s a mystery, but what happens is that the reader is just confused. 

Finally, the stories lack a philosophy or point.  Why should I care about D&D and what happens in Noirtown?  What can I learn from these characters?  How does it affect my life?  There does not seem to be any answer to these questions. So, no plot, no compelling characters, no philosophy, and no point. I can only advise that you skip this one, no matter how many 5-star reviews you may see posted on amazon.

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