Blog Book Tour | “Destiny’s Gambit” (Book One: The Voyages of Jake Flynn) by R.J. Wood

Posted Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. Now, as a 5th Year Book Blogger I’ve decided I’ve reached a point where I can have better flexibility with scheduling guest features and reviews on my blog without feeling I’m stretched too thin between the commitments I’m making to feature the stories and authors I am blessed with thanksgiving to discover as I blog my readerly life.

Reading is starting to resume it’s enjoyment, even though I still have my migraines to shift through, being able to host for her authors has been a renewed joy. This marks my first blog tour hosting for Lola after a considerable absence and I look forward to finding more tours I can host with her throughout the year.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Destiny’s Gambit” direct from the author R.J. Wood in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Coming out of #WyrdAndWonder, I knew I would be keeping #FantasyReads in my reading queue straight-up until Sci Fi November! However, I had the joy of finding this series whilst #wyrdandwonder was still happening this past May! Originally, I was going to host an extract and a guest feature for the blog tour, when I had the unexpected surprise of being able to receive the books for review consideration! I was thrilled by this news, as what drew me into wanting to read this series all along was how this was marked as a Fantasy story fit for either Middle Grade or Young Adult readers. I oft find myself struggling to find a story of Fantasy I can appreciate as an Adult reader much less finding one I would love to see reside in either MG or YA markets! This series felt hopeful from the perspective, I was hoping the world-building and character development would be as stellar as it felt it could be through the synopsis!

The synopsis I read for this story is actually the same one on the back of the book I read for this review, however, I didn’t have it in full to share with you today. It talks more about the world Jake Flynn is entering and the mysterious suspense of not understanding where his parents have been his whole life. That in of itself was a curious footnote for me – as what would have become of them which would limit or restrict their communication with their son?

The story itself felt like a Quest and those are the ones I do appreciate finding in Fantasy – but this one felt different too. Not quite traditional Fantasy as it has elements of Science Fiction (and Steampunk) knitted into it’s corridors of interest whilst it hinges a bit on the fantastical where not all the entities Jake is going to come up against are going to be a) human and b) benign! I hadn’t a clue what to expect once I began reading the story and thus, I went into it with an open mind hoping I’d find a wicked good read!

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Blog Book Tour | “Destiny’s Gambit” (Book One: The Voyages of Jake Flynn) by R.J. WoodDestiny's Gambit
Subtitle: The Voyages of Jake Flynn
by R.J. Wood
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Ravven
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

A resourceful boy takes a glowing sailboat across the stars to search for his long-missing parents and becomes the target of pirates and an evil cabal with a sinister agenda.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1514277737

Also by this author: Destiny's Gambit

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Sci-Fantasy, YA Fantasy


Published by Self Published Author

on 3rd July, 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 248

Published By: Self Published Author

Formats Available: Paperback and Ebook

The voyages of Jake Flynn series:

Destiny's Gambit by R.J. WoodBeyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

Destiny’s Gambit | book one

Beyond the Moon | Book Two | synopsis

Genres: Sci-Fantasy | Steampunk | Space Pirates

Young Adult | Magic | Adventure

About R.J. Wood

R.J. Wood

R. J. Wood has been creating stories and adventures for others since 1979. A bard at heart, he trained in Drama (BA) and History (MA) while at university. He currently lives near Snoqualmie Falls in Washington State with his wife and children. There he does a little fishing, some adventuring, and of course, his writing.

Like everyone of my generation and beyond I have been heavily influenced by film. I like to think of my books as movies in my mind. I developed my creative writing through fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal RPGs. My degree in drama helps me with story, characters, and especially dialogue. Having an advanced history degree is excellent for plots and characters, but it also helps me with world building.

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My Review of destiny’s gambit:

When we first meet Jake, he’s an ordinary boy eager to have an adventurous play moment with classmates he knows from school. Despite the ordinariness of his life and theirs, there is one rather interestingly unique ship laying in wait for them to discover it in a neighbour’s field. This is the kind of ship boys or girls would get wicked giddy over seeing aground in a field in their neighbourhood! As it’s the old kind – where the mast runs high, the sails could be envisioned as gracing the decks and where men fought off pirates whilst forging their destinies on the high seas! You can immediately see the appeal for three young boys who are caught up in the inventive play and dare to see what their heart is imagining before them!

Of the three, Jake has the old soul in the group – wiser than his years, in touch with histories of seafaring life moreso than the other two boys and has such an ease of leadership as to ascertain exactly what is meant to be said as a Captain of a ship! They might have been pretending but for Jake, part of his turns at the interactions felt a bit more real and solid; almost as if he could really live his words and take command of a ship such as this! The only downside, I could foresee for younger readers are the words Jake is using – as coming out of a love of Nautical History and Nautical Historical Fiction stories, I was able to grasp what was being articulated but I am unsure if a younger reader whose just getting their feet wet into literature might fare the same? I was a bit surprised there wasn’t a glossary in the front or back of the novel?

The ascent of the ship Jake was meant to ride is one of the best sequences I felt in YA Fantasy, as you truly were captured by the magical moments of how this ship went from a seemingly ‘abandoned’ ship in an errant field to a lift-off sequence worthy of the cosmos! I even liked how the magic was running concurrent with ship lore and ship life – as the missing bits of the ship not only shined back into life, but it is how Mr Wood directed their appearances and how this was connected to Jake was wicked special!

Prior to taking the ship for his own uses, there was a tender scene between Jake and his grandmother – a lot of the story is told from a narrative point of view, where we are seeing what is happening to Jake rather than experiencing it all for ourselves. This one scene with his grandmother told volumes of clues towards what is affecting Jake (as he’s grown-up without his parents) and the state of affairs at his home, where his grandmother is his true ally moreso than his Uncle. It didn’t delve into too many details about his family’s unit nor of why he was without an Aunt prior to shifting forward to where he’s embarking on his quest.

Similar to how I felt a bit overwhelmed when I first started watching Farscape, as I tried to understand this whole new world opening before my eyes as readily as it was being experienced by the astronaut who crashed into it, I found myself a bit lost when we shifted points of view off of Jake and settled on Otto. Otto is of a different species, as he lives in a far off world from Earth – he’s a protector of sorts and through observing him with his grand-daughter Starla, I could only hope to interpret their path and Jake’s are about to crash into each other if you take stock of the takeaways from their conversation! I did long a bit to know more about what Otta and Starla looked like – as descriptively, I felt they fell a bit flat round the edges. I couldn’t quite get a lock on how they appear nor what makes them stand separate from humans?

When Jake met the Ratlings, I felt like Wood was getting his rhythm within the world-building – of encompassing more of the descriptive bits I look for in Fantasy, as I could definitely see these two creatures as they talked and interacted with Jake! One thing I enjoy about Fantasy worlds is when they dip through our own world and our own familiar awareness’s on Earth but then, take them a bit further and re-explore how they could be re-imagined elsewhere! The reason I enjoyed this encounter is because the Ratlings were kind-hearted even if they were treasure seekers – they did care about helping Jake better understand where he has landed and to give him a bit of information about where he should or could go next.

I admit, some of the action sequences – such as when Jake was finding others are being bullied off-world felt a bit typical of a story for young readers but didn’t feel typical to be inclusive to the story at hand. For one thing, it felt like there were portions of the novel which were attempting to define themselves – is this a Fantasy story set in Space or is it partially fantastical but leans more in the realm of Urban Fantasy set in Space where the perimeters of the world are still rooted in our own contemporary world (or of the essence of our world)? For a world seemingly unlike ours it seemed rather interesting to find so many humans living offworld amongst the other species? One thing I think which might have benefited this story is a bit more background on the world itself – of how it is organised and arranged – as again, there were times I felt like John Crichton in Farscape bumping around and not really understanding the gravity of everything.

More interesting, for an alien world – there isn’t any issues with language and translations* – meaning, all the characters and secondary characters are able to understand what Jake is saying (in English!) without having a stressful time in comprehending his words from their own language? In fact, come to think on it – language isn’t being addressed nor is atmosphere changes, air quality and other smaller bits like food choices. The food is similar to what Jake is familiar with but to me, I think it’s almost too similar – as after all, this is a world so far removed from our position on Earth, they’d have their own foods.

I do enjoy a wicked good transmorphication – there is a cheeky good one in Destiny’s Gambit, which takes place during a rescue attempt aboard a pirate ship! What impressed me the most is how honest it was to happen – as this was a stirring of the back-story on behalf of Jake and his parents, or rather even, his ‘kind’. There is an old order of magic in this realm which can be channelled and re-directed at will, which makes it wicked awesome! I also liked how most of the magic involves light energy and the transference of this energy in order for things to work.

There is also elemental magic present which makes for interesting scenes but what truly captured me was the teamwork and evolving partnership between Jake, Starla, Otto and Jehn. They were forging a new path together, seeking to get away from their mutual enemies and sorting out the details of their personal discoveries of each other along the way. As most of this story takes place aboard ship, I was awaiting the conflict to begin – where two ships or more would be pitted against each other. When the time finally came, I found the battle was stalled a bit too easily but further what interested me is how there are portals which act as hyperspace jaunts for the ships – where you can literally move yourself through this part of the universe in a faster way than normal space.

I truly loved the symbolism and the analogies threading through Destiny’s Gambit as well as the spirituality which was hugged softly into the background. There are a lot of life affirming lessons being shared through the adventures of Jake Flynn – including how to handle fear, uncertainty, ambiguous loss (of his parents) and to grow out of the courage you never knew you had within you. It’s a story about a boy coming of age after finding out everything he thought he know about himself and his origins was only part of the true story. Once he was in-flight away from Earth, it wasn’t just his origins which were calling him home but it was his truer nature and the destiny which was awaiting for his arrival to become revealled.

NOTE: The issue of language is addressed in Chapter Thirteen and uniquely enough it wasn’t what I was expecting but I should have sorted it out on my own. I think the reason I overlooked this is because I was still struggling with the world and it’s dynamics rather than focusing on the smaller questions I could answer if I was looking more readily at what was already ‘in-scene’.

On the fantastical writing style of R.j. wood:

Being a lover of the Pacific Northwest, as much as having been a traveller whose been there – when the island off the coast of Seattle is mentioned and the Olympic mountains – I felt like I knew where the story is being developed. There is a unique difference in scale and scope of how you feel in the Pacific Northwest in direct comparison to other areas of the States; the climate is gentler and far kinder than the East, with the air clean and crisp to boot! It’s a rather enchanting part of the country and it is fitting to have a Fantasy story set against the shores of this Western Coast!

There are brilliant moments of narrative clarity – such as the initial voyage of the ship Jake is riding through the universe – including, tapping into recognisable sensations such as how the ship rides the currents in the vacuum of space itself. It is a clever theory as there are currents in the air on Earth which all aircraft take for granted will be there as it guides them forward, which makes it theoretically keen to think of the same type of current (albeit different!) would be available to a ship cast into space – where the currents can be manipulated in a healthier presence than a fuell-driven starship!

The muddling bits for me, were understanding the world where Starla lived – as all of a sudden I felt like there was a bit too much to process without enough back-story to understand it all. Especially the heightened tension of knowing this character had threats against herself and that led me to questioning, but why? Why would her life be in such stark jeopardy!? And, why is this something we need to be invested in understanding? It was a connecting issue – of finding why we need empathy for the characters we barely knew or understood but were right in the middle of a major crisis they needed to resolve.

Some of the confusionary portions of the novel resolved themselves latter on in the novel, which in my mind, felt a bit too late to be inclusive to the time-line. I guess I simply like the back-story sooner rather than later, as it makes it harder to feel attached to a world when you have to wait til nearly the last quarter of a novel to find out the details your keen on knowing in the opening bridge! Despite this grievance – the plot was well-thought out, as it is set to be a cross-over arc where you get closer to the evolving truth per each installment which is read (and written). This helps develop the scope and breadth of the series, by inserting us into Jake’s life now and then, as he becomes more familiar with this part of the universe, the same is true of the readers of his story.

When it comes to villains, we surely have a few to appreciate in this series! Visually speaking, Celia Sable is quite striking as she’s reptilian! You don’t even understand what is motivating her to seek out Jake and his ragtag group, only that she has something against people of his innate gifts and greed has a big part of her motivations. What was interesting about this part of the universe is how it became cut off from the portion of space which acts are our ‘known’ universe – where the planets we’ve grown to know in our lifetimes reside. There is a hint towards how this happened but the need or rather the want to reassert the passageway back to Earth is high. There are a lot of interesting segues of thought stemming out of this first installment, and although, there were times I wished for more back-story in the narrative, I was able to connect the most important dots by simply ‘living forward’ in-line with Jake.

Some of the word choices in the novel made me feel this leans more towards Young Adult than Middle Grade – not that there was anything vulgar in the text, as that would make it Upper YA (in my eyes) but there was a subtle adult tone running in the background – where the story was not entirely kept within a younger vision of where a Fantasy story could run and thereby, it felt rather decidedly YA to me.

Fantastical elements:

→ Imprinted messages which appear like holograms in your mind

→ Light-powered ships floating in bubbles of air

→ Light magic and celestial overtures

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Beyond the Moon blog tour via Lola's Blog ToursFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comLola's Blog ToursReturn on the 24th of June, the last day of the tour to happily find an interview & extract from this series being featured on Jorie Loves A Story! After the tour, I look forward to reading ‘Beyond the Moon’ and sharing my thoughts after I’ve read it!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Destiny’s Gambit” and “Beyond the Moon” as well as the synopsis for “destiny’s Gambit”, the author’s photo and biography, the blog tour banner and the tour host banner were all provided by Lola’s Blog Tours and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Lola's Blog Tours, Nautical Fiction, Science Fantasy, Self-Published Author, Small Towne USA, Urban Fantasy, Washington, West Coast USA, YA Fantasy




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