“I Am Chun” by Mark VanTassel

“I Am Chun” by Mark VanTassel 175 263 Reader Views Kids

I Am Chun

Mark VanTassel
Independently Published (2023)
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (06/2023)

Chun is not your average guy. In fact, there’s nothing average about him. Even before he inadvertently did a Rip-Van-Winkle and woke 17,000 years later than intended. In his life before the big sleep, Chun was a master warrior, wizard, and a respected member of the royal family. He has known nothing but war in his 400-year life to that point. He wakes into a strange world where his language is not spoken, his people are not remembered, and he is simply an oddity. He has no family, no money, no home, and no history that the ignorant “children” guarding him know anything about. Chun is more than his name: it is the statement of his modern personage. But I’ll let the explanation for that play out in the story.

I wasn’t too crazy about “I Am Chun” by Mark VanTassel in the first few chapters. I felt like I was running to catch up, a bit like someone who starts a novel in the middle. I struggled at first, but then the proverbial light clicked on; my brain fell in sync with the author’s style, and I was suddenly mesmerized by this story and the characters within.

Chun is a fascinating character. He is a powerful wizard who awoke into a world where the so-called “powerful” wizards can do little more than heat their own tea. He has a wealth of experience regarding tactics of war, politics, power plays, and personal agendas. Finding him was nothing but a happy accident for the man in power. He thought his minions had discovered an ancient artifact with an equally ancient corpse inside. No one realized Chun was alive until his sarcophagus was opened. Now General Archibald has within his grasp a man with arcane knowledge as well as superhuman abilities. He plans to use this to his supreme advantage in a world on the edge of possible war.

The cast of characters is vast yet fascinating. Most of them are humans- good, bad, or ignorant. But there are also the aforementioned “wizards” with only minor power. They tend to hide in plain sight and keep their identities secret. Then there are the Nephilim. They are a giant race, half-human, half-angel, and considered to be the devil’s minions; incapable of doing good. But not everything, or everyone, is as they seem.

The author has a unique style that has created a sprint-paced read in marathon form. He has an extremely economic notion when it comes to such things as descriptive paragraphs, world-building, or transitional phrases. Admittedly, this made me uncomfortable at first, being a more traditional type of reader. Yet once I fell into the groove, I found Mr. VanTassel’s style agile, refreshing, and enticing. I couldn’t put the book down. The characters mesmerized me, especially (but not exclusively) the wizard Chun, who found himself as a political pawn in a world he no longer knew. There are many good points to this style of writing.  The reader is not burdened with pages or chapters of world-building, leaving a freedom of imagination not normally found, even in fantasy reads. Despite this, the characters become well-developed and engaging for the reader. This skeletal form of description allows the reader to simply flow with the storyline, picking up details and clues on the fly. I found this to be a form of respect on the part of the author, as though he assumes a level of intelligence within his readers and has faith that they will pick up those important breadcrumbs as they’re dropped. My dinosaur brain wrestled with these concepts, but I have no doubt younger readers will embrace and celebrate the author’s techniques.

“I Am Chun” is a fierce, visceral, and witty read which features some unexpected themes, such as racism, bigotry, sexual freedom, and slavery vs. indentured servitude. It is listed as a YA read, suitable for ages 16-18. Please understand this is a very strong PG-13 read with frequently coarse adult language which borders on gratuitous at times.  That said, it’s nothing more than what the average high school student hears any day in the school halls.  Yes, my dinosaur brain is showing again.

In chapters one and two, I considered this a possible 3-star read. By the middle of Chun’s story, I knew I was engrossed in a 5-star novel. As I raced through the mind-blowing final battle, I was grateful to have found this tremendous tale. I wholeheartedly recommend “I Am Chun” by Mark VanTassel to fans of fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal novels. College-age through middle-aged adults will find a profound and enjoyable story within.

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